🛣️ America’s Bridges, Factories and Highways Are in Dire Need of Repairs. Bring in the Robots.
These days, Shell is able to keep the plant running, and keep repair personnel on the ground and at a safe distance as they operate wall-climbing robots that inspect things like steel holding tanks at millimeter resolution, says Steven Treviño, a robotics engineer at Shell. Using a variety of sensors, the robots can look for both corrosion and cracking. This helps the team shorten the list of things they have to take care of when a full shutdown occurs. The magnetic wall climbers Shell is using are made by a Pittsburgh-based startup called, appropriately, Gecko Robotics. After testing the Gecko robots at Geismar, Shell plans to expand their use to offshore facilities.
“There are hundreds of types of corrosion,” says Jake Loosararian, CEO of Gecko Robotics, “and we’ve been developing technology and software to analyze what kind of damage is happening.” Gecko began as a robotics company, but has since expanded into creating software to process the data its robots gather. The startup makes systems that are now used to track more than 60,000 assets across the globe, including power plants, pipelines, oil refineries, dams, U.S. Navy vessels and other military equipment.
When it comes to inspections, “often the data you need is literally in plain sight, it’s just hard to collect it,” says Bry, of Skydio.
🧠📹 What Sets Toshiba’s Ceramic Balls Apart? The AI Quality Inspection System
Bearings cannot be easily replaced once a vehicle is assembled. In the U.S., bearings used in EVs are expected to be of high enough quality to withstand long distances. One issue that can occur with EVs, however, is the “electric corrosion” of the bearings that mount the various vital parts of the vehicle onto the motor—a serious issue, as it can lead to the breakdown of the vehicle. High-performance bearings would drive the widespread use of EVs, and contribute to the push towards carbon neutrality. The electrical corrosion phenomenon had hampered these efforts, but not anymore—therein lies the beauty of Toshiba’s ceramic balls.
“Our ceramic balls go through slight changes about every year and a half due to changes in material and other factors. To keep up the accuracy of the quality inspections, we have to continually update the AI system itself. The MLOps system automates that process,” says Kobatake.
“We’ve been able to dramatically reduce the time spent on these inspections. Ceramic balls are expensive compared to their metal counterparts. They have so many different strengths, and yet they haven’t been able to replace the metal ones precisely because of this particular issue. If we’re able to reduce the cost through AI quality inspection, we’ll be able to lower the price of the products themselves,” says Yamada.
World-First Project to 'Self Heal' Cracked Concrete Using Sloppy Sludge Could Save $1.4 Billion Annual Repair Bill to Australia’s Sewer Pipes
A world-first project led by University of South Australia sustainable engineering expert Professor Yan Zhuge is trialling a novel solution to halt unprecedented levels of corrosion in the country’s ageing concrete pipelines. Self-healing concrete, in the form of microcapsules filled with water treatment sludge, could be the answer.
Corrosive acid from sulphur-oxidising bacteria in wastewater, along with excessive loads, internal pressure and temperature fluctuations are cracking pipes and reducing their life span, costing hundreds of millions of dollars to repair every year across Australia.
“Sludge waste shows promise to mitigate microbial corrosion in concrete sewer pipes because it works as a healing agent to resist acid corrosion and heal the cracks,” Prof Zhuge says.
Deconvoluting Aluminum Alloy Corrosion with Multimodal Correlative Microscopy
Aerospace manufacturers are continuously exploring novel materials that could support the next generation of aircraft design. This includes advanced aluminum alloys that incorporate increased zinc content, which results in a tougher material with higher quench sensitivity. Unfortunately, these improvements often come at the cost of decreased cracking resistance. Understanding the precise source of environmentally assisted stress corrosion cracking (EAC) would allow manufacturers to finely tune alloy production and potentially overcome the shortcomings of these novel materials.
An Automated Approach to Detecting Corrosion Under Insulation
Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is corrosion that occurs in the base metal of piping, storage tanks, pressure vessels, and other assets when moisture penetrates the outer insulation. Corrosion and damage to the insulation are difficult to detect without the costly process of removing portions of it and performing an inspection. Standard techniques help identify damage in isolated areas but are resource intensive if prioritizing the overall condition of the asset.
Alternatively, robotics-based NDT techniques, such as Rapid Ultrasonic Gridding (RUG), reveal CUI through an internal inspection without the need for scaffolding or removing insulation. This technique utilizes ultrasonic testing to measure the thickness of the insulated metal. When paired with data visualization tools, the readings are used to generate 2D or 3D corrosion heat maps of the entire asset.