Viability of Computer/Robotic Controlled Penstock Coating Removal and Application

Project ID: 4047
Principal Investigator: Darryl Good
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016
Keywords: None

Research Question

Reclamation's aging infrastructure includes steel penstocks and pipelines. Accessing these confined spaces is
difficult and extremely dangerous when combined with removing and replacing failing coatings loaded with
noxious fumes. Twenty to forty percent of the costs for completing these tasks are focused on making the
confined space accessible and survivable for human occupancy.
Have robotic or other computerized systems advanced to the point where the human element can be removed
from this dangerous task? Removing the human element for coatings work inside penstocks and pipelines would
enhance safety, reduce the time required for completion, and significantly reduce costs.

Need and Benefit

A robotic or computerized system could remove the human element from the confined space of penstocks and
water pipelines. This would benefit Reclamation by enhancing safety, reducing the required time for completion,
and significantly reducing costs by as much as 40 percent.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Viability of Computer/Robotic Controlled Penstock Coating Removal and Application (final, PDF, 869KB)
By Darryl Good
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

This scoping (literature search) proposal investigates whether technology has advanced to the point where robots can remove and apply coatings within hydro-dam penstocks. It was noted during a Value Study that 30 to 40 percent of the costs for a related project were associated with entry, access, and reducing risk associated with the work due to human activities. Using robots would significantly reduce costs and increase safety. The result of this research is; while there is no single robot that can perform all needed tasks (remove existing coating, inspect surface, and apply new coating), there are existing robots that could perform each individual task. Numerous applications for the use of the technology exist within the public and private sectors. CEATI is an international Research and Development (R&D) organization of which Reclamation is a member. Reclamation should consider developing and partially fund a proposal through CEATI to prove and expand the existing technology for use in penstocks in the aging hydro-electric dams throughout Reclamation's inventory.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17