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Detecting Corrosion Under Insulation using Trained Dogs: a Novel Approach

Dogs have been trained to detect corrosion under insulation through their sense of smell. A remote scent tracing technique has been developed, where scent samples are taken in the field, and analyzed by the dogs elsewhere in a laboratory setting. Although it was not possible to chemically identify volatiles characteristic to corrosion in the insulation material, dogs learned to discriminate air samples collected on filters from mineral wool covering corroded and un-corroded locations. After training on samples prepared in a laboratory setting, the dogs were presented with samples collected in the field using specially designed equipment. These samples were made by sucking air through drain plugs in the insulated pipes at a gas processing plant onto the filters. Dogs were able to also discriminate between samples collected from drain plugs near corroded pipes and samples collected from un-corroded locations. A number of locations were tested double blind. Combining the results of several dogs in a system approach, the sensitivity of the detection of field samples was 92%, and the selectivity 93%. The application of such a system as a tool in a preventive maintenance program could be useful to determine timing of maintenance, thus allowing a more efficient allocation of costly resources necessary for visual inspection.

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