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Research that made it to the market.

More than 50 exploitable products have so far emerged from the Research Centre for Non-Destructive Evaluation, professor Newton says.

One of the most notable is the ultrasonic phased array. Researchers at Bristol developed innovative imaging techniques and software designed to cut the 'dead' time imposed on what can be major infrastructure consumed by inspections, improving the detection of defects and sizing performance. The tools provided a technical solution where existing methods were failing.

The software is now in use both in industry and the NDE service sector where it has helped establish UK leadership.

A particularly outstanding use of the new software is in inspecting the titanium fan blades in Rolls-Royce aero engines. This used to require dismantling the whole engine but miniature phased array probes developed by Research Engineers at Bristol enabled the blades to be inspected in-situ, bringing savings of [pounds sterling]4.9m in only 18 months.

Guided wave research at Imperial College led to the development of a high-temperature ultrasonic thickness gauge for permanent installation on structures at up to 600[degrees]C. A development project funded by BP then led to commercialisation by spinout company Permasense, and it is now in use on a wide range of oil and gas plant worldwide.

Following RCNDE research undertaken at Strathclyde University, an innaccessible vessel in the Magnox Reprocessing Plant at Sellafield was inspected remotely by a robot carrying an ultrasonic transducer. This allowed measurement of the actual wall thickness rather than using corrosion modelling to make an estimate. The survey confirmed that the vessel was in a good condition.

Other successful technology transfers include:

* Micromachined transducers for NDE (University of Warwick)

* Permanently installed monitoring of creep damage (Imperial College) a Non-linear material inspection (University of Bristol)

* Reconfigurable systems for automated & remote NDE (University of Strathclyde)

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Publication:Environmental Engineering
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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