The SprinkTest project is partly funded by the European Seventh Framework Program (FP7) over two years. Sprinkler systems are commonly used for fire protection of important facilities such as backup servers, power stations and hospitals. These facilities are characterized as area of high fire potential risk and therefore are heavily relied on Sprinkler Systems to contain, slow the spread or even extinguish the fire. Besides asset protection, sprinkler systems are always used in buildings and facilities with crowd congestion such as stadiums, airports, convention centres, ships at sea, distribution hubs, etc.
Sprinkler systems, by design, can be either wet or dry and both systems are subject to corrosion and blockage compromising their integrity. These effects may lead to water leakage from the piping system, increased repair costs and may jeopardise the fire protective functionality of the overall system.
The difficulty of inspecting Sprinkler pipes and identifying corrosion indicative effects visually is enhanced by the fact that pipes are often enclosed and difficult to access as they typically are hidden in the building envelope as opposed to being visible. In addition, inspections of Sprinkler systems are often overlooked and the current NDT methods such as visual, UT and LRUT technologies are invasive, expensive and time consuming. Existing techniques are also unable to be used for the inspection of certain defects such as isolated corrosion pits and blockages.
The SprinkTest project, started in November 2013, aims to improve the integrity of the sprinkler system by detecting potential for failure before significant damage occurs, when mitigation costs and logistics are at a minimum; all with little to no interruption to daily operations.
A proactive approach to fire sprinkler maintenance will be developed using completely non-invasive technologies that form the basis of a Preventative Maintenance (PM) approach. This will be achieved by developing a new technology not only to inspect but also to monitor pipe condition of automatic fire sprinkler systems. Novel medium range ultrasonic test (MRUT) system, using higher frequency ultrasound (100KHz -500KHz) will be developed. The Sprinktest system will be light and compact and its development will be based on smaller flexible transducers array to gain access to confined spaces, lower power electronics to allow hand-held portability. Sophisticated software will be developed to process signals and extract information from the numerous guided ultrasonic waves present at the higher frequencies. This will give quick and accurate information about the condition of the pipes and identify both corrosion (wall thinning) and blockage.