Global energy demand is forecast to double in the next 25 years. In the EU, two-thirds of the electricity is generated by thermal power plants, including nuclear and fossil fuel, 70% of which are more than 30 years old. These ageing plants sometimes run at critical temperatures and pressures, increasing the risk of defect and potentially leading to power cuts and catastrophes with environmental and financial consequences. Existing pipeline inspection systems are limited to operate at ambient temperatures, and require planned service outages causing costly energy cuts.
Innovation: These issues prompted EARTO member TWI and Brunel Innovation Centre to develop the Hotscan System to continuously monitor the health of these thermal power plants, even at high temperature. Hotscan technology uses guided ultrasonic waves, which are able to propagate along the length of pipes. It makes it easier to inspect large and innaccessible areas of superheated steam pipes, ensuring early detection of pipe defects without power outage, reducing inspection time and costs.
Impact delivered: This innovation enables to cut down operations and maintenance costs and increase the annual energy availability by ~5% through reduction in downtime. When a 600MW plant owner decides to install Hotscan on their 4km network of pipes, they require 40 systems at a total cost of €2M, and the payback is within 3 years.
EU funds: Through the FP7-SME – Specific Programme “Capacities”: Research for the benefit of SMEs.