Throughout North America there are many crude oil storage tank facilities — also called terminals — serving as hubs, transfer points and storage. Safety precautions such as pre-service integrity testing, cathodic protection, primary and secondary containment measures, and grounding techniques have been utilized to assure safety as a top priority. These tanks undergo an in-service API 653 external inspection at least every 5 years, and are taken out of service to undergo an API 653 internal/external inspection at least every 30 years [1], [2], [3]. For these aboveground storage tanks, the bottom plate is the most vulnerable area to corrosion [4] and is also the most challenge area to inspect visually. Both sides (product-side and soil-side) of the tank bottom plate are prone to high rates of corrosion in comparison to other components such as the roof and shell [5]. Corrosion generally starts with coating defects such as air or water ingress to underling layers and exposing the steel to uncontrolled environmental factors.

Internal inspection can be performed using ultrasonic measures to calculate the sheet thickness, however, external inspection is impossible without having access to the tank bottom. This paper will introduce a novel inspection method for external monitoring of the surface of the tank bottom plate in real-time. The proposed technique proactively approaches the problem by predicting the corrosion before it occurs. In this technique an array of microwave-based sensors operating at ISM band (2.57 GHz) are introduced for defect prediction. The array is composed of equally-distant and identical microwave spiral ring resonators (SRR) [6] that are electromagnetically coupled to a transmission line. All resonances created by the array elements merge in one band-stop frequency response with very high isolation. Once the sensors’ environment is altered by any defects such as an air breach, liquid ingress [7] or corrosion initiated, a resonance shift will occur indicating coating risks. To prove the concept, an initial prototype for small tanks of 3–5 ft. diameter is investigated. Two-port system data illustrates that in case of a coating defect, the frequency profile accordingly changes and provides a signature. The obtained data is used to predict possible corrosion in timely manner. The proposed sensor array enables external monitoring of tank bottoms surface where visual inspection is impossible while the tank is in-service.

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