iX challenge: Assessing the Condition of Pipe and Substrate under Composite Wraps

The KTN Innovation Exchange (iX) is supporting Sellafield to identify innovative solutions to assess the condition of pipes and substrate underneath composite wraps. The winning business(es) in this competition will be given an opportunity to present their solutions to Sellafield, with the potential of a commercial opportunity.

Opportunity Details


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Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to Sellafield experts. The package may also include funding (potentially Game Changers), support, collaboration, procurement opportunities and more.

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Composite repair systems using composite wraps remain a constant repair option for industries requiring the repair and rehabilitation of piping systems. Sellafield’s site in Cumbria has a significant number of composite wraps already in use and plans to use them in future however, as it’s not possible to see through or under the composite materials, it is not possible to check:

  • if the composite wrap has been installed correctly
  • if the composite integrity is present·
  • if the bond between the composite and the substrate is still holding (for example, is there a leak?)
  • the condition of the asset underneath (has the problem stopped, is it still progressing and is remedial work required)

Solutions to all of the above would allow Sellafield to have confidence in the installation, performance and life of the repair. It is of particular importance to understand when a failure is about to occur.

Understanding the condition of these repairs will allow more extensive use of composite wraps as a means of repairing pipes across the site, saving both time and costs.

To meet the desired timescale and minimise risk, it is preferred that the proposed solution, or the key part(s) of the solution, has been previously demonstrated in an industrial environment (>TRL 6).  The solution should be achievable within health and safety requirements and regulations.

Functional Requirements

  • Must be able to undertake inspection from outside of the pipe ie insertion of items inside of the pipe will not be considered
  • Must be able to accurately assess condition/integrity of a repair patch, the interface, the pipe and substrate.
  • Must be non-invasive and non-destructive
  • Ideally all components should be assessed, however, we will also accept solutions that can only assess individual components.
  • Any assessment/inspection must provide clear interpretation/feedback of results
  • Applicants should define the field of view of their solution
  • Solutions should be able to define where any problems may be starting to appear before any leaks or hazardous risks occur.
  • Ideally, an integrated remotely operated system for monitoring, feedback of issues, degradation in comparison to previous assessments and recommendations to replace composite repairs as necessary is sought.
  • Ideally, an assessment of the condition of pipe/substrate without requiring physical contact with the composite material is sought.  If this is not possible then applicants should state if equipment is cleanable and how it is sealed from any contamination
  • Software/hardware should be stand-alone and not rely on wi-fi or Cloud connectivity

Technical Requirements

  • Pipework ranges in diameter from 50mm and 200mm
  • Pipes and vessels are typically either carbon steel or austenitic stainless steel
  • Composite repair patches are made from a glass-fibre layer followed by multiple layers of carbon fibre
  • Composite fibre architecture could be either woven or non-crimp fabric (NCF)
  • Wall thickness of the composite wrap is >6mm
  • Any technique deployed would ideally be able to estimate life prediction (desirable)

Operating conditions

  • Pipes and vessels are typically in highly congested areas/rooms.  Applicants should state if the solution can work from one side or if they require access all around the pipe
  • Pipes and vessels can be outside and so exposed to the weather, which can be often inclement
  • Pipes and vessels could be situated in controlled / radiation environments and so applicants should highlight if solutions are affected by this in any way
  • Some pipes could be steam ducts and so temperatures of the pipes could be as high as 80C
  • Pipes may be at elevated positions and so solutions that are lightweight, suitable for manual handling (ideally < 5kg at shoulder height, <15kg at waist height) would be preferred


Entrants to this competition must be established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs, and be UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base.


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