Consultancy and Commercialisation
In parallel with the ongoing research programmes, the group regularly undertakes shorter consultancy tasks which exploit their knowledge in these topics. As well as contributing to the funding of the research work of the group, consultancy is seen as an important means of transferring research findings to industry, this being a key objective of the group. From the industrial point of view this opens opportunities for industrial clients to benefit very cost effectively from the many years of specialist research which underpins the results and solutions delivered by such contracts.
A number of projects have led to successful commercialisation. These include:
- Technologies for robotic inspection. Spin-out company, SONOBOTICS LTD (www.sonobotics.com) has been established to realise the vision that NDE can be seamlessly integrated into robotic platforms to perform industrial inspections.
- Long range NDT using guided waves. Spin-out company Guided Ultrasonics Ltd was founded in 1999 by former members of the NDT group. It runs a successful business which designs and manufactures NDT equipment for long range guided wave inspection. Industrial applications include pipelines, heat exchanger tubing and railway lines.
- High temperature wireless thickness gauge. Spin out company Permasense Ltd has commercialised a high temperature ultrasonic thickness gauge for permanent installation on structures at up to 6000C. A strip waveguide is used to separate standard piezoelectric elements and electronics from the hot surface, and the waveguide is simply clamped against the structure surface with no need for couplant. The system is in worldwide use www.permasense.com
- "Wheel probes". An ultrasonic transducer is coupled to the structure via a rubber tyre, thus providing an alternative to water or gel coupling. A device which works up to 10MHz was licensed to Silver Wing Ltd.
- Dental implants. A device was developed for determining the quality of integration between bone and dental implants in the jaw. A spin-out company, Integration Diagnostics Ltd, was formed to market the instrumentation. Further details are available at Osstell.
- Ripeness testing of fruit. A method was developed for sorting avocados so that selected fruit could be marketed as 'ripe and ready to eat'. The method is licensed to Sinclair International Ltd and is operating successfully on an industrial scale to sort avocados, mangoes and other fruit.
All consultancy work is done via the college company Imperial College Consultants (ICON), whose web site is www.imperial-consultants.co.uk.
The research programmes are driven strongly by industrial requirements for NDT. We have worked closely with a wide range of companies including BAE, BP, British Gas, Chevron, DSTL, Ford Motors, Exxon, MOD, Network Rail, Qinetiq, Rolls Royce, Schlumberger, Shell, Thames Water, Unilever Research.