|TWI has won a contract with the University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM) worth £100,000 to develop a new condition monitoring system for underground storage tanks.
The team at TWI will deliver the project – the first of its kind in Malaysia – in partnership with technical experts from the university which focuses on intensive research into engineering, science and technology.
The new system will be designed to address and supersede the limitations of current underground storage tanks inspection techniques such as manual gauging, inventory control and leak detection methods, all of which are unable to detect tank leakage until it has already occurred.
Photograph shows: Acoustic Emission sensor deployment for underground storage tanks
TWI’s solution will use Acoustic Emission (AE) which is proven for the screening of corrosion and erosion as well as crack growth monitoring. The system will employ transducers installed permanently into the underground storage tank, enabling operators to improve their preventative maintenance strategies by condition monitoring of their assets’ integrity.
The system is expected to bring a range of benefits to underground storage tank operators including:
- more accurate identification of vessels that have a higher risk of defect or could reach the end their specified lifespan earlier than expected, enabling the operator to budget more accurately for repair or replacement, and the prioritisation of affected vessels to ensure continued service and life extension.
- provision of continuous monitoring data that can be used to determine safety and security levels of vessels, enabling operators to assess whether individual units are economically viable to continue operating or whether large costs would be incurred.
- provision of structural health monitoring evidence that can be used to justify the life extension of older vessels to operate safely for a given period of time, enabling greater control over planning and budgeting.
- a reduction in the potential environmental hazards associated with underground storage tanks – arising from faulty installation, inadequate operating or maintenance procedures as well as wear and tear – such as seepage of petroleum or other substances. This can result in contaminated soil and groundwater, with attendant health and environmental risks, and the potential for fires and explosions.
TWI’s team will spend approximately seven months on the fast track development project, following which they will also provide theoretical and applied training on the newly commissioned system to key representatives of Malaysia’s oil and gas industry.
Ángela Angulo, Senior Project Leader who will manage the project for TWI said ‘We are delighted to have secured this contract with the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, which will
potentially lead to the vital monitoring, for corrosion and leak detection, of some 6,000 underground storage tanks across the country.’
‘Our vision for the realised system is that it will bring significant benefits to end user operators including a reduction in cost, shutdown inspections and maintenance intervals; an increase in safety levels; and better control over long term operational and financial assets management,’ she added.
Photograph shows left to right: Mohd-Shamsuri Khalid, UTM, Ángela Angulo, TWI, Dr. Meng-Hee Lim, UTM and Professor Salman Leong, UTM
TWI Ltd (The Welding Institute)