We are looking for an innovative solution to carry out inspections of inner surface of chimney in order to:
- avoid the execution of inspections by workers at heights;
- reduce/eliminate the use of scaffoldings or climbers;
- guarantee high resolution of visual inspections (pictures well defined and lighted, 360° panoramic view);
The solution should be easy to be implemented, also in relation to the difficult operating conditions to reach access points. Design and operative procedure proposed should take into account the difficulty of recovering any objects that fall into the hopper during setup and the execution of inspection.
We require a solution that is ready to be tested within the next 6 months and has feasibility already tested.
(Completely untested solutions would take too much time to perform a complete significant tests within 6 months.)
Attached are shown pictures of different chimneys structure and the main types of defects that can occur.
Figure 1 - Chimney with multiple liners
Figure 2 - cone shaped Chimney with antiacid bricks (inside) and concrete shell (outside)
Enclosed also a typical example of a single-liner chimney with refractory bricks consisting of two concentric rings:
- The external one is made of reinforced concrete (with variable radius and thickness).
- The internal one is made of refractory brick and it constitutes the liner.
Figure 3 - Detail of a joint
Attached are shown some examples of problems encountered in the chimneys.
In the image it is shown the state of health of the mortar between the bricks. It is needed a check in order to evaluate possible filling.
In the image there are some dark areas in the wall texture, with evidence of acid dripping that corroded the superficial surface of the refractory bricks.
In the image there are fractured refractory elements
Things to Avoid
- The Seeker is not interested in solution “ideas” that just describe a potential solution with few or no details. For example, saying “Use a drone with a GPS outfitted with high resolution cameras” is not considered a solution by itself. You must provide which drone, which GPS, which cameras, how they are integrated, why they will work, where they worked previously, etc.
- Technology that has not ever been tried or at least demonstrated, although interesting, will not be qualified to be tested within the 6 month time period required. You would be allowed to integrate components that have not been tried together but were all demonstrated individually.
Any solution should be compliant with the following requirements:
- Avoid the execution of inspections by workers at heights;
- Eliminate the use of scaffoldings;
- Carry out a high resolution visual inspection covering entire internal surface of all the complete Chimney elevation. Note: the following conditions can occur:
- exhaust gas and dust can flow through the liner;
- falling of materials can occur inside the chimney (bricks, deposits or antacid layers);
- the interior area of the chimney is generally dark, good lighting should be required;
- there could be turbulence inside the Chimney;
- there could be some measurement probes or other equipment inside the chimney at various positions.
- Live images visualization by remote console/ground station
- The inspection system must be equipped with an adequate light source in order to guarantee good quality of images.
- Have the ability to acquire images without oscillations in order to guarantee still pictures.
- Images must be collected and tagged by position (altitude and angle) in order to allow the reconstruction a single large format image that is representative of each section. In particular, it is asked to create 360 ° panoramic images (internal open section) as a final result for each single section for the total length of the chimney.
- Any solution must be operated from outside the chimney
- The solution must be CE certified to be used as a working tool at plants in Europe.
- The proposed system should have no third party patent preventing the use for commercial and industrial application.
The following would be “nice to have” but are not required for an award:
- A 3D model reconstruction.
- A method for automatic anomalies detection.
- Automatic precompiled reports
The solution may combine existing components, commercially available components, and/or novel Solver solutions. Ideas leveraged from industry with similar needs are encouraged.
The submitted proposal should include the following:
- Detailed description of equipment/process that can meet the above Solution Requirements.
- Rationale as to why the Solver believes that the proposed equipment/process will work. This rationale should address each of the Solution Requirements described in the Detailed Description and should be supported with any relevant examples and data.
- Demonstration of feasibility of the proposed solution. You can show data, pictures, videos or any method you choose. The more evidence you can provide that it will work, the better. You should convince the Seeker that a real test could be carried out in 6 months or less.
- Details of steps (e.g. installation/setup, measurements, data transfer, etc.).
- Estimated costs including specialized training required.
- Potential suppliers of any equipment/materials required.
- The status of the technology your interest in continuing to develop the solution after the Challenge. The Seeker may wish to partner with solution providers, if possible.