Columbus’s egg for corrosion under insulation?

Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is a serious threat to the safe operation of chemical installations. Tackling this leads to huge maintenance costs for the process industry. That is why Sitech Services uses innovative techniques to make corrosion under insulation predictable. 

Monitoring moisture and corrosion 
“We are currently implementing an innovative technique developed
by the UK company CorrosionRADAR,” says Peter Janssen 
(Senior Mechanical Engineer Corrosion & Materials at Sitech Services). “The measuring device consists of a carbon-steel wire that contains integrated sensors. We apply them to the high-risk sections of an installation, like a column or pipe. Once the system is operational, a radar signal is sent through the wire, which can be used to identify the presence of corrosion. The data are read by means of a wireless network and can be monitored continuously. This is currently still being done by CorrosionRADAR itself, but we are busy transferring it to our Sitech Asset Health Center. This application is being tested with an ATEX-certified system, the first of its kind in the world.” 

“Innovations and an integrated approach allow us to reduce maintenance costs by predicting corrosion under insulation and ultimately preventing it.”
Peter Janssen, Senior Mechanical Engineer Corrosion & Materials at Sitech Services

Sitech invests in innovation 
The new technique is applied in the AnQore ACN plants, more specifically in the AS107 column, which is sensitive to corrosion under insulation. Peter: “Early this year we heard that the insulation of the AS107 column would be removed during the turnaround for it to be blasted and preserved. It was a unique opportunity to test this technique in a plant environment, as this only happens every 15 to 20 years. We entered into discussions with the Plant Manager and were even prepared to pay for the investment ourselves, as innovation is so important to Sitech. Thanks to the efforts from the workers at AnQore and the turnaround team, this project was successfully carried out during the turnaround.” 

Significant savings on maintenance 
What are the benefits? Steven Custers (Materials & Corrosion Engineer at Sitech): “We expect that we will not to have to unpack the column for the next 25 years, as we are now capable of measuring whether any moisture enters the insulation and corrosion occurs, the extent to which it occurs and where it is located. We can determine this with an accuracy of about 10 centimeters. If repairs are required, the insulation will only need to be locally removed in the spot where the repair work is required. Normally speaking you would have to unpack the entire installation, even if you only have 5% damage. That leads to significant costs, including costs for erecting scaffolding, wrapping the installation in sheeting and safety measures. You can save on these costs by using this technique, which also makes the installation a lot safer.” 

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