Validation of UTComp’s UltraAnalytix® composite inspection

June 11, 2018

Rigorous proof that UltraAnalytix® works

At UTComp, we’re guided by hard data, scientific precision and repeatable results for composite inspection. So before we brought our UltraAnalytix® composite inspection technology to market, we made sure we tested it, and tested it more, until we were thoroughly satisfied of its accuracy.

Thoroughly tested in the field and in the lab

Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) is an ideal material for pipes, tanks and other equipment used in a wide range of industrial processes. It’s lightweight, offers excellent corrosion resistance and has a high strength-to-weight ratio. However, when we launched UTComp, there wasn’t a reliable, non-destructive method for evaluating the structural integrity of FRP assets.

We set out to change that. Drawing on more than 60 years of research, we identified the specific ultrasonic equipment, calibrations and assessment algorithms we needed to perform in-use evaluations of FRP assets and create highly accurate corrosion curves.

To prove our model, we’ve conducted more than 500 tests over the years — some blind, some in the lab — comparing our technology with destructive methods. (For blind testing, UTComp receives asset samples or data with little or no information about the type of resin/glass, chemical fluid or process involved. We test the sample using UltraAnalytix® and the same sample is sent for destructive testing at a third-party lab.) Our results are within 15 per cent of the results obtained through destructive testing 95 per cent of the time.

Validated by external experts

To give our customers even more confidence in our approach, we’ve also had external experts assess our system. For example, researchers from York University’s Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering conducted an independent assessment on our ultrasonic evaluation methods.

At the 2015 Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, the researchers presented their conclusions that UltraAnalytix® provides a good indication of the flexural modulus of FRP tanks. According to their experiments, the majority of results obtained using our technology were within +/– 20 per cent of results obtained from ASTM D790 destructive tests.

Average Destructive Test Modulus

Figure 5 (a) Comparison between average destructive test modulus and predicted modulus from thickness

Figure 5 (b) Comparison between average destructive test modulus and predicted modulus from transit time.

Figure 5 (b) Comparison between average destructive test modulus and predicted modulus from transit time.

Source: Zhu, Z.H., L. Murugathasan and G.E. Clarkson. 2015. Experimental validation of ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation of residual service life of fibreglass reinforced plastic structures. CAMX.

Engineers from the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee echoed those findings. The researchers conducted split ring testing to determine the Hoop tensile modulus of 6- and 8-inch pipes. They then compared that data to predictions made through our ultrasonic composite inspection, concluding that UltraAnalytix® performs as well as destructive tests for FRP integrity analysis.

Table 5: Comparison of Hoop tensile modulus obtained by spit ring testing and Hoop tensile modulus obtained by non-destructive testing

Table 5: Comparison of Hoop tensile modulus obtained by spit ring testing and Hoop tensile modulus obtained by non-destructive testing

Source: Hassen, A.H., U.K. Vaidya and G.E. Clarkson. 2015. Innovative nondestructive ultrasonic testing and analysis for FRP piping. CAMX.

Used on more than 2,000 FRP assets around the world

We’re currently tracking more than 2,000 FRP assets for some of the world’s largest food processors, mineral processors, chemical processors and oil and gas companies. With each new customer we gain, our database gets bigger, allowing us to predict FRP lifespans with even greater accuracy.

But the statistic we’re most proud of? Of the thousands of FRP assets we’ve tested since 2008 — across North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia — not one of them has experienced a failure that we didn’t warn our clients about in advance and recommend they address.

As composites materials expert Pradip Khaladkar concluded: “[UltraAnalytix®] has proven to be the best available technology for determining the percentage of design strength and remaining life cycle of the FRP asset.”

The bottom line: UltraAnalytix® composite inspection lets you manage your FRP assets with absolute confidence — without the costs or disruptions of destructive testing.

To learn more, call us at 519-620-0772 or email us at inquiries@UTComp.com.