Amphibious Robot for inspection and predictive maintenance of offshore wind assets
UK and EU governments have committed to ensuring 20% of total energy consumption is sourced from renewables by 2020. Diminishing fossil fuel resources and adverse environmental impacts. 18% global electricity expected from wind energy by 2050; driven by diminishing fossil fuels and governments’ decarbonisation targets. Offshore wind is increasingly preferred due to better wind condition and agricultural land use conflict.
Offshore wind foundation needs enhanced inspection/maintenance technologies to ensure the installations remain operational over their full working lives. The inspection/ maintenance constitutes ~65% total operation & maintenance costs, with >50% of this due to scheduled hazardous diver-based visual inspections or corrective inspection/maintenance. Reducing operation and maintenance costs remains a key priority for offshore wind industry.
The project iFROG combines enabling capabilities in electronics/sensors/photonics and robotics to deliver innovative marinised autonomous robot for inspection and predictive maintenance of offshore wind turbine foundations both above and below the water line.
Amphibious Robotic System (iFROG) will employ magnetic adhesion to navigate difficult to access ferrous surfaces; performing non-destructive testing (NDT) via marinised phase array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) and using NDT data and material properties/history/degradation pathways to derive optimal maintenance strategies.
A risk based approach will be used to develop a team of robots able to carry out the detailed tasks of inspection and preventive maintenance, by using autonomous features to allow adhesion, navigation and deployment of non-destructive testing via Phase Array Ultrasonic Testing, for the offshore wind turbine foundation both above and below the waterline (down to 60m water depth).
The system will combine the technology of Risk-based Inspection (RBI), Predictive Maintenance (PM), Total Quality Inspection (TQI), Fitness for service (FFS) and Optimum Repair Technologies (ORT).
The project will develop:
- PAUT NDT hardware and platform system
- PAUT signal processing and image processing software, testing unit, interface, and configuration system
- Robotic Platform and cleaning gear. Procure parts for multi-robot system. Assemble robot system. Database implementation.
- Functional testing, Conduct testing, Test units, end user application and quality assurance
- Testing above waterline. Assess performance using OREC's 27m training tower and modifications needed to improve performance
- Testing below waterline. Assess performance using TUC’s 35-100m test site and modifications needed to improve performance
The iFROG project aim to deliver appropriate maintenance strategies to ensure continued power operation and improving overall system competitiveness. It is estimated that iFROG will save £150k p.a. per foundation and generate £40.2M revenue in 5 years, creating 28:1 return on investment and >200 new consortium jobs - improving partners' competitiveness. This will improve the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of offshore wind; encouraging future investment and benefiting energy security and the environment.
This project was co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.