A new technology to identify weld defects in minutes will save time and cost in high-integrity fabrications for nuclear new build projects and other quality-critical applications.
The technology was developed by the AWESIM (Automated Welding Equipment System Inspection and Monitoring) consortium, led by Cavendish Nuclear Ltd and which involved the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde.
The consortium, which has filed patents on the technology, also included Doosan Babcock Ltd, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at University of Sheffield, Peak NDT Ltd, Babcock International Group and Frazer Nash Ltd.
The AWESIM disruptive technology is a game-changer for fusion welding as it enables real time detection of defects in fusion welding processes as they occur. It will yield greater schedule certainty, take hours out of the process, help to significantly reduce the incidence of abortive welds, drive productivity up and ensure sustainability is optimised by reducing the energy and materials used in the weld.
As part of its primary function, AWESIM gathers high resolution data from several different sensors being used to interrogate the fusion welding process n real time and uses computer algorithms to rapidly analyse the data. This process gives operators an immediate indication of the presence or absence of welding defects. The sensors include acoustic, laser profiling, cameras and temperature compensated phased array ultrasound.
Dr. Charles MacLeod, Senior Lecturer in the Centre of Ultrasonic Engineering at Strathclyde, said: “This funding, secured through the BEIS Nuclear Innovation Programme, enabled us to translate our novel Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded automated in-process inspection research through the Technology Readiness Levels and deliver impact to the nuclear industry at pace and at scale.
This project ensures that UK engineering continues to advance high-value, cutting-edge manufacturing and repair processes.”
Cavendish Nuclear’s Head of Innovation and Technology, Tony Burnett said: “The impact of this disruptive technology in the field of high integrity fabrication is expected to be significant.
“Our AWESIM technology is capable of reducing the time taken between forming a fusion weld and knowing it is free from defects from several hours to minutes.
“Closing the time taken for feedback between welding and non-destructive weld inspection to such short durations enables significant productivity and sustainability improvements, provides greater schedule certainty so saving time and money while maintaining quality.”
Bert Holt, Director of Nuclear Lifetime Programmes from Doosan Babcock, said: “The AWESIM project has demonstrated the power of collaboration in innovation between the academic and industrial partners in projects enabled by the judicious application of government funding to make a real tangible impact in bringing new, potentially disruptive technology to the market.”
The consortium members are now working towards a commercial launch of the AWESIM technology.