Advanced corrosion monitoring for marine and civil infrastructure - bringing new technology closer to market

Lead Research Organisation: City University London
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Mathematical Sci

Abstract

This 'follow-on' project builds upon the success of recent work undertaken by the applicants, particularly under the first round of the EPSRC Challenging Engineering Programme and, critically, takes that research forward towards industrial application and exploitation. The work continues the strong interdisciplinary partnership between Electrical Engineering at City University London (CUL) and Civil Engineering at Queen's University of Belfast (QUB), working together with their respective Technology Transfer Officers (TTOs) to take full advantage of the excellent relationship forged, including with the spin-out company, Sengenia, and the other industrial partners, Network Rail, Roads Services of Northern Ireland, Amey Plc and Collins Engineering. There is a clear focus of the proposal - to make the commercial potential of the research more evident, both to the market and to set a platform for generating sustainable interest from future funding organizations to create the right conditions for commercial exploitation of the technology. The key technical strength, underpinning the commercial potential and providing the capability, is the successful development (through the support from EPSRC EP/D030269/1, EP/D030196/1, EP/D009162/1, EP/F012829/1) of novel corrosion sensor systems for monitoring early signatures of concrete corrosion. This has enabled the creation of, for the first time to the knowledge of applicants, new, tailored, durable in-situ pH sensors which have a demonstrable capability to measure pH values higher than 12 and chloride sensors which have not just been able to measure free chloride concentrations (to a level as low as 20mM) but also been sustainable in the high alkaline environment experienced.The research undertaken to date has shown real promise to bridge currently identified market gaps by providing better monitoring solutions for both marine and civil infrastructures and thus to overcome current commercial limitations in the UK and beyond, especially in terms of the sensing range, sensitivity and durability. Several important technical and commercial challenges have been identified which are well attuned to the Follow-on funding agenda and the success of this proposal promises industry access to better data to allow more timely maintenance and cost saving - creating a successful commercial proposition, to the benefit of UK and global industry. It should be stressed that this application to the Follow-on Fund is targeted not simply at another year's work on sensors per se but is designed to make the ideas generated and the work done better suited to rapid commercial exploitation, to the benefit both of industry and academia. The approach taken is built on the support of and advice from both an SME and end users, to give a better understanding of decay and corrosion processes in the built environment.

Planned Impact

There will be a critical impact on the major beneficiaries of the research through the outcomes, as indicated below 1) The wider public in general. Impact will come from the success of the research through the potential for novel approaches for the early warning of marine and civil infrastructural failure. A significant impact would be avoiding the massive disruption to the public and the significant financial losses caused by collapsed infrastructure, in addition to enhancing public safety and confidence in infrastructure 2) The public sector and stakeholders. The success of this commercial feasibility study which has been based strongly on technical merit will not just provide the public sector and stakeholders with valuable early warning in relation to structural corrosion but also offer a significant cost savings in relation to the structural maintenance, repair and replacement of existing deteriorated infrastructure through the use of novel technologies and best practices. 3) The commercial private sector. Impact will be seen in UK industry being able to benefit from direct access to research outcomes of the feasibility studies carried out through the partnership developed both during the project period and subsequently. This will be followed up by subsequent commercial exploitation through appropriate license arrangements with patent owners 4) The UK Institutions involved. They will benefit both from the enhancement of their respective current research portfolios and potential joint ownership of the Intellectual Properties arising from the patent protection for the new technologies. This would allow for further financial benefits to both Universities should the commercial exploitation be successful 5) The investigators. An important impact on them will be from the experience gained in the coordination and management of this type of industrially-driven multidisciplinary research by working closely with industrial partners and Universities TTOs 6) The early career PDRAs and PhD students involved. Potentially the impact on them can be huge - they will gain significant experience by working with colleagues in different Universities and across different sectors, which could create a unique platform for them to develop new directions for their future careers

Publications

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McPolin D (2011) Preliminary Development and Evaluation of Fiber-Optic Chemical Sensors in Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering

 
Description The key achievement of this project is to explore the commercial potential and refinement of a suite of chemical sensors developed through the previous EPSRC funded project for corrosion monitoring
Exploitation Route The findings have been patented and their exploitation for commercial potential is still on-going
Sectors Chemicals,Construction

 
Description The innovation has been patented before being published. Negotiations with a couple of companies who have expressed interest in the commercial exploitation are still on-going.
 
Description BIS
Amount £700 (GBP)
Funding ID UK-China Innovation Forum 
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2011 
End 09/2011
 
Description EU CleanSky scheme
Amount € 598,963 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2014 
End 05/2016
 
Description EU FP7 programme
Amount € 477,058 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2013 
End 12/2016
 
Description Industry funding
Amount £182,083 (GBP)
Organisation Brecknell Willis 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2014 
End 05/2016
 
Description Sewer management
Amount $1,000,000 (AUD)
Organisation Sydney Water 
Sector Public
Country Australia
Start 06/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Description Standard grant
Amount £94,628 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J500781/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2012 
End 05/2013
 
Description Standard grant
Amount £320,725 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H018247/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2010 
End 06/2013
 
Description Standard grant
Amount £88,042 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I006214/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 05/2012
 
Description UKIERI
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 03/2017
 
Description Water quality
Amount $700,000 (AUD)
Organisation Australian Research Council 
Sector Public
Country Australia
Start 08/2017 
End 08/2020
 
Description Innovative manufacturing 
Organisation Industrial Microwave Systems Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Development of optical fibre sensors to be integrated into a microwave, which is used for low-carbon concrete curing, thus providing significant energy saving and low-carbon concrete manufacturing solutions.
Collaborator Contribution Working together with academics both at City and UCL, allowing for the creation of smart microwaves for low-carbon concrete manufacturing
Impact Journal and conference publications and new funding application is in the pipeline It is multi-disciplinary: involving physics, material sciences and engineering
Start Year 2013
 
Description Railway pantograph condition monitoring 
Organisation Brecknell Willis
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions made by City: (i) development jointly with Brecknell Willis a suite of novel sensors which can monitor pantograph conditions when it is powered at 25kV and exposed to temperature variations; (ii) jointly set up the dynamic loading system at City; (iii) two patent applications filed; (iv) joint publications; (v) joint funding applications
Collaborator Contribution Contribution made by Brecknell Willis: (i) working together with City colleagues to develop sensors and integrate them into their pantographs; (ii) set up the test rig at City; (iii) providing various industrial test environment; (iv) providing vehicle tests opportunities; (v) providing cash and in-kind support
Impact The achievements made have been recognized by BW and City being finalists for both the IET Innovation Award 2015 and the Times Higher Education Award 2015 It is multi-disciplinary: involving photonics (physics), electrical and mechanical engineering
Start Year 2011
 
Description Sewer corrosion monitoring 
Organisation Sydney Water
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The collaboration between City University of London and Sydney Water enables the novel optical fibre humidity sensors developed at City to be deployed in sewers in Sydney for monitoring the rate of corrosion in concrete sewers for waste water management
Collaborator Contribution Contribution made by City: (i) Development of novel humidity sensors that are suitable for working in harsh conditions; (ii) software design to control the power consumption to enable continuous monitoring and data transmission powered by battery due to the lack of power supply in sewers; (iii) careful design and packaging of sensors to ensure the robustness and longevity of sensors working in highly acidic environment. Contribution by Sydney Water: (i) Working together with City colleagues for field implementation of novel sensors; (ii) investment of significant manpower time to undertake the joint work; (iii) supporting joint research funding application; (iv) providing cash support to speed up the field implementation process; (v) access to facilities and equipment at Sydney Water
Impact Australian NSW Water Awards 2017 Winner (http://www.awa.asn.au/AWA_MBRR/About_AWA/Awards/State_Awards/NSW.aspx) under the category of Research Innovation Award for 'Better management of sewers - exploiting photonics sensors research through its introduction to the water industry' It is multi-disciplinary: involving chemistry, physics and engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Description self-sensing motor drives 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of an all-in-one optical fibre sensor system to be integrated into both induction and permanent magnet motors for monitoring for enhanced energy efficiency and reliability
Collaborator Contribution (i) Providing novel motors allowing for the accommodation of a suite of optical fibre sensors to be integrated into both the stator and rotor for real-time measurement; (ii) providing manpower support for extensive loading tests at Nottingham
Impact journals and publications and joint funding application is in the pipeline it is multi-disciplinary: involving physics and power engineering
Start Year 2014
 
Title Chloride sensor 
Description Design of a novel chloride sensor, which is able to detect the concentration of corrosive ions, chlorides, inside concrete and also to survive in a very high alkaline condition 
IP Reference PCT/EP2012/050898 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2011
Licensed No
Impact This will make an impact on the construction industry by providing an early warning for maintenance and for repair
 
Title FBG strain sensor 
Description Design of FBG-based sensor for monitoring corrosion of an elongated reinforcing bar 
IP Reference GB2439993-2008-01-16 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2008
Licensed No
Impact This will make an impact in the construction industry by providing an early warning of corrosion in order to minimize the cost for maintenance and for repair
 
Title Optical monitoring system 
Description Novel optical monitoring system developed to be integrated into railway current-collecting pantograph for remote monitoring and control 
IP Reference WO2014072436A1, CA2899668A1, EP2994335A1, US20150362385 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed Yes
Impact Potential impact lies in the reduced failure of pantograph thus causing significant traffic disruption and cancellation of train operations
 
Title pH sensor 
Description This is the design of a high pH sensor allowing for concrete carbonation condition monitoring at an early stage 
IP Reference PCT/EP2012/050900 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2011
Licensed No
Impact This will make an impact on the construction industry by identifying corrosion problems at an early stage to save costing for maintenance and repair.
 
Company Name Sengenia Ltd 
Description Sengenia Limited is a fibre optic sensor company, bringing ingenuity in sensing. Fibre optic sensors are revolutionising the world of sensing and monitoring through the recognition of their numerous advantages over alternative technologies. 
Year Established 2007 
Impact The company has been able to bridge the link between industry and the two academic organizations, City University London and Queen's University of Belfast, by promoting optical fibre sensor research at City to industry, in particular, to the construction sector.