Project: High Temperature Environment 3D Stereo Measurement for Corrosion Monitoring

Strengthening the European manufacturing base and enhancing the productivity of high-value manufacturing, while reducing environmental and production risks are critical objectives for Europe. The European Commission recognize that a cornerstone and a key challenge for a sustainable development of the manufacturing sector lies in achieving high productivity rates while reducing the environmental impact in particular the carbon footprint of manufacturing processes. The metal refining and process industries are important to Europe and are significant employers, whilst also being highly visible in terms of environmental impact._x000D__x000D_COtenance methodologies and approaches based on intelligent data processing techniques are crucial when improving productivity and reducing machine stoppages, but also help avoid expensive repair costs. By improving predictive COtenance, the lifetime of the system and the availability of the whole process will be increased. The detection of unforeseen failures has significant impacts reducing costs, loss of life and environmental impact. A new generation of sensors and sensor networks are required to automate and improve the current COtenance techniques employed in a wide range of industries. Machine vision has revolutionised many industries, but High Temperature Environment (HTE) industries have suffered from a lack of available technologies due to the extremely harsh environments under which they operate._x000D__x000D_Operational downtime in process engineering or HTE installations is disastrous for production costs, resulting in significant lost revenues (up to €1 million per day) to European industrial users. There is also an environmental impact, with significant energy being required to restart high temperature processes. Boiler, furnace, refractory and turbine lifetime is the most important reason for conducting a costly COtenance campaign to reduce downtime and extend lifetime. Corrosion and erosion that affect many processing chamber walls are either in the form of brick thinning, pitting or cracking. Any sensor device that can provide accurate and reliable measurements of the internal surface structure will lead to direct efficiency savings in the process industry by measuring the effects and levels of erosion and corrosion, thus enhancing the ability of manufacturers to predict and alter COtenance schedules. Similarly, if such a sensor can observe early warning signs of unforeseen failures, this could have a significant financial and environmental saving & risk reduction effect. As most inspections require the chambers to be cooled and processing stopped (off-line), if the sensor could work with the chamber on-line even more saving could be made._x000D__x000D_This project will bring to market a new instrument capable of measuring these effects directly, with the processing chamber reCOing on-line, without the need for any simulations to infer erosion. It takes the innovative step of using a high performance true 3D imaging system based on stereo-camera technology to measure surface deformation. The stereo camera will be mounted within a water cooled periscope probe and is planned to be operational in temperature up to 2000 °C. The instrument will have a target range measurement accuracy of 1 mm and comparable spatial resolution and be capable of measuring the entire internal surface of a furnace chamber. As well as the development of the instrument key to the project success will be the adaptation of the GOTCHA (Kim & Muller 1996) stereo processing algorithm into a commercial grade software package. The instrument must be capable of making measurements no matter what the surface structure of the chamber. A new approach of projecting a speckle pattern into the target area will be used. This will ensure even smooth featureless environments can be measured (normally beyond the capabilities of stereo camera methods). _x000D__x000D_This project is focused on the process industry and production structures in high-temperature environments and in particular metal refining and steel production but has much wider application use. User interaction is a key part of this project and an outreach programme will be employed to ensure that the user requirements are clearly understood to widen market acceptance._x000D__x000D_The consortium has two Ps one of which is an SME (IS-Instruments Ltd (ISI)) and the other a major Austrian research institute (Joanneum Research (JR)). ISI will complete more than 60% of the project work and conduct the optical design, instrument development, test programme and market outreach. ISI will be responsible for ensuring the successful marketing of the commercial products developed within this project. Using its core expertise JR, will focus on the software development. Their expertise in software development and Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) processing is vital for a successful outcome. The Ps complement each other in this hardware and software instrument development._x000D__x000D_

Acronym HiTES3D (Reference Number: 7424)
Duration 03/09/2012 - 30/06/2015
Project Topic This innovative project will develop a new high-temperature probe for high temperature manufacturing environments based on stereo-camera technology _x000D_ to make topographic measurements. It targets reducing operating downtime, the carbon-footprint and enhancing profitability.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO outcome of this project was that a prototype instrument was developed to capture stereo image pairs in high temperature environments for corrosion monitoring and detect cracks. On site testing of the prototype showed that the instrument functioned well in extreme heat and that the acquired images were successfully processed to provide a 3D model of the target area by a semi-global matching (SGM) 3D processing algorithm which was also developed during the project._x000D_Other results of this project include:_x000D_A 3D camera bar was produced (by Coordinator ISI) that is able to acquire high resolution images. The successful reconstruction of the 3D model of the target area (by JR) shows that there is an appropriate baseline between the cameras, the distance between the apertures is correct, field of view of the cameras is large enough and the mirrors and optics are suitable for high resolution image acquisition. _x000D_The production of a 3D matching software using SGM (by JR) was found to be the optimum solution for producing the topographic model of the surface of the target area in near-real time and is ready for integration with hardware for testing and operation._x000D_A water cooled and air-purged instrument housing was also designed and sourced during this project by ISI. This was a bespoke system that included extra apertures for an additional camera and a laser speckle projector. The on-site trials showed this equipment was able to withstand temperatures of 1200 degrees C with little change to its internal temperature (reCOed < 25 degrees C during the entire test). The cooled housing also included an insertion and rotation mechanism which may be developed further to provide automated control._x000D_Two further innovations were developed through the project that are expected to be appropriate for patent applications. These include the use of liquid lenses for control of the focal distance through computer commands. This could be developed into a means of automated control to provide the sharpest result each time images are acquired. The second innovation is the use of laser speckle projection to provide a means of artificially adding texture to featureless or relatively featureless surfaces. The projected features are important as stereo matching algorithms require points which are detected in both cameras. Both of these innovations are expected to be very important for the development of an automated system on a production line.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 IS Instruments Limited Coordinator United Kingdom
2 JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsges. mbH Partner Austria