IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all


For the development of an instrument that uses gamma ray tomography to inspect subsea pipelines from the outside of a pipeline through protective coatings. Discovery™ produces high resolution images that allow customers to make informed decisions regarding issues including blockages and erosion, leading to huge operational savings.

Inspecting subsea pipelines can be difficult and costly. Limited information can be obtained through intrusive inspection, but typically production needs to be stopped to do this and there are risks of creating blockages with inspection instruments.

Tracerco’s Discovery™ uses gamma ray tomography to produce high resolution images, enabling the non-intrusive inspection of complex subsea structures to measure contents and metal walls from the outside of a pipe. It locates blockages, distinguishes between different types of build-up within pipes and identifies when there is the potential for damage to the walls of the pipe. Discovery™ is able to operate at depths of up to 3000m, under immense pressures and in harsh offshore conditions. The innovation allows customers to make informed decisions to resolve issues such as blockages, build-up and corrosion of pipes.

The technology is providing Tracerco’s customers with a unique inspection capability to diagnose numerous previously unmeasured properties, leading to huge operational savings. Discovery™ has created more than 30 jobs to grow the R&D product team. Two instruments are currently in operation and four more are being manufactured this year to meet growing demand.

The company

Tracerco, based in Billingham, is part of the Process Technologies Division of Johnson Matthey. The company is a world leader in its field with a reputation for innovation: they are a past winner of an IOP Innovation Award, having been recognised in 2013 for the development of a gamma radiation-based thickness measurement system.

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