Non-destructive testing of plastics and composites in the chemical processing industry

Jacobson, Karin; Swerea KIMAB AB; Sweden

Jacobson, K.; Swerea KIMAB; Sweden

ID: ECNDT-0073-2018
Session: Composite General 2
Room: G1
Date: 2018-06-11
Time: 16:00 - 16:20

Equipment and components made of plastics and composites are widely used in highly corrosive environments in the processing industry. Examples are the storage tanks, pumps and pipes for chemical transport and stacks in combustion plants. The demand for reliable non-destructive testing of plastic process equipment has increased significantly in recent years. The advantages of NDT are to, among other things avoid the extraction of samples for further analysis and / or to replace / supplement a visual inspection, especially in inaccessible and hazardous areas.
At Swerea KIMAB we are working on finding suitable NDT methods for different applications. The applications of major interest to find suitable techniques for include; corrosion barrier thickness determination in FRP, diffusion and penetration of corrosive agents into plastic materials, extent of corrosion attack and remaining wall thickness of thermoplastic pipes and tanks, delaminations in FRP and dual laminate tanks and piping systems and quality assurance of thermoplastic welds. Some of the techniques that have been evaluated are; ultrasonic techniques (phased array and pule-echo), laser shearography, radiography, terahertz, thermography, lamb waves and microwave techniques. The suitability of the technique depends on the application. One major challenge is, however, to agree on the acceptance criteria. This is further complicated by the fact that also the destructive testing is not always conclusive in giving a reliable continued service life prediction.
In addition to the NDT techniques, we are also active in looking into the possibility of making “smart” polymeric materials for corrosive environment by implementing various sensor systems into the material. One example is using 3D-printing for building in RFID-sensors into plastic components.