The PolyTest Project is an EU-funded H2020 Fast Transfer to Industry (FTI) project with the objective of taking the PolyTest™ system initially developed under the EU FP7 TestPEP Project (2010–13) from its current form by continued design improvement and enhancing capabilities.
The evolution of the PolyTest inspection concept has a long history through previous European-funded projects, WINDEPP (1998–2001) and Polytec Systems (2004–06), which respectively developed ultrasonic inspection systems for butt fusion and electrofusion joints in PE pipes and determined critical defect sizes based on the long-term integrity of the welds.
The European Commission has since recognised that many research projects in the past had created products with high commercial potential, but lacked the funding to make continued improvements and implement all the necessary support structures. The H2020 FTI funding process provides that mechanism.
PolyTest background overview
There is an estimated 11.5 billion metres of polyethylene (PE) and plastic industrial piping globally, carrying essential and in many cases potentially hazardous (eg hydrocarbon gas, toxic chemicals) and safety-critical (eg nuclear power plant emergency cooling services and systems) fluids. The pipes are fabricated from individual sections welded together to form a continuous pipeline that could vary from a few tens of metres in length to 100km or more.
There are an estimated 700 million PE (or closely similar equivalent plastic) welds worldwide, mainly concentrated in the energy, gas, water, mining and process plant industry sectors. The vast majority of these welds are not adequately inspected to verify their through-weld integrity, because there has not been a commercially available product – until now.
The need for a commercially available system for the inspection of welds in PE/plastic piping is clear.
Approach to market
The PolyTest project consortium brings together all the necessary expertise to develop the already successful PolyTest system and realise its true potential as an invaluable inspection tool for all industries using PE/plastic piping.
The project is particularly targeting four industries:
Essential to its success are compliance with standards, reliability and sufficient robustness for use in all industrial environments, a consistent approach through well-developed and validated procedures, high-quality training of PE/plastic pipe inspection personnel and through-life product support.
The main purpose of the PolyTest project is to improve and enhance the current system through the following steps:
- Scanner hardware and software enhancement
- System validation for flaw detection and sizing
- Performance demonstrations across specified industry sectors
- Development of a dedicated training and certification scheme
- Involvement in all standards and code committees
General project objectives
Global exploitation of the PolyTest system will be achieved through whole package inspection service or inspection service collaboration. This will incorporate technician training, internationally recognised certification, technique and system validation to industry standards and application-specific technique procedures.
This will be made possible through a process of product and software enhancements for the specific application of testing (at manufacture and in-service) PE pipe welds in the range of 90 to 900mm diameter and 8 to 72mm wall thickness, in the following industry sectors:
- Nuclear power
- Gas utility
- Water utility
- Petrochemical and process plant
Specific project objectives
- DESIGN and ENGINEERING – Improve robustness of subparts for improved site test reliability and produce inspection procedures for target industry sectors.
- TECHNICAL – Produce software specific to the weld configurations and introduce ADR for data analysis and weld flaw screening.
- VALIDATION and DEMONSTRATION – Validate and demonstrate the PolyTest system against technical specifications on representative specimen samples in a range of diameters and joint types.
- MANUFACTURING – Secure supply sources of subparts through appropriate vendors.
- TRAINING – Develop an employer-specific NDT technician training and examination course for the PolyTest system to meet the requirements of EN9712 (Certification of NDT Personnel) with accompanying PolyTest system operating manuals.
- STANDARDS – Contribute in the development of EN and ISO standards, American ASME codes and ASTM standards relating to the use of ultrasonic testing of butt fusion and electrofusion joints in polyethylene piping, to ensure the PolyTest system remains compliant.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement number: 701194