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PhD/postdoc vacancy (4 years) on Ultrasonic assessment of the structural health of Lined Pipelines transporting heavy acids

Transportation of heavy acidic fluids is often done with specifically designed lined pipelines. The pipelines typically have an outer steel wall (thickness ~15 mm) and an inner ceramic coating (thickness ~1 mm). The proper functioning of such lined pipelines is almost exclusively determined by the inner ceramic coating. In case there would be a leak in the ceramic coating, the acidic fluid will corrode through the outer steel wall in a matter of hours, leading to a full shutdown of the industrial plant.
Upon installation of the lined pipelines, the ceramic coating could already have a varying quality: e.g. thickness variations, porosity clusters, varying stiffness,... Further, during the operational lifetime of the pipeline, the acidic fluid will gradually erode the ceramic coating (~0.05 mm/year). Hence, it is crucial to properly assess the actual state of the inner ceramic coating at certain time intervals. Current inspection procedures involve a full team of operators which need to go inside the pipeline (after thorough flushing with water) for assessing the quality of the ceramic coating.

This project focusses on the development of a novel, efficient and in-situ non-destructive test method to monitor the structural integrity of lined pipelines from the outside during their operational lifetime. The ultrasonic technique of interest is the classical contact pulse-echo ultrasound (pipelines are above the ground and accessible). From the ultrasonic response, several signal parameters will be extracted and analyzed in order to estimate the quality of the ceramic coating. In order to cope with the harsh industrial circumstances, this involves the development and implementation of (i) advanced excitation signals (e.g. coded waveforms), (ii) novel signal analysis tools in time/frequency domain and (iii) inversion procedures. In a second stage, the developed method will be implemented in a phased array system with a rolling transducer. Such a system will allow to assess large parts of the lined pipeline in a time-efficient manner.

This project requires a researcher with a strong interest in instrumental hardware (NI-PXIe platform will be employed), a good background in LabVIEW, as well as a high affinity with advanced signal processing techniques. This project is funded by industry and the final developed device will be tested on-site at the facilities of the industrial partner.

Only candidates with a Master/PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, (Applied) Physics or similar should apply. You are interested in instrumental physics and signal processing. You have good knowledge of LabVIEW, and preferably also of MATLAB. You are interested to interact with industry and to disseminate your results and findings.

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