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The US Bureau of Reclamation, responsible for overseeing water management in the western United States by providing consistent hydropower, irrigation, and water supply while protecting the environment, seeks to learn about new or improved techniques for non-destructive inspection of hydraulic structures and piping made from composite materials.


Composite materials have the potential to reduce corrosion and associated maintenance. However, technology and industry standards for inspection and condition assessment are a critical necessity to ensure that composites can be used safely and reliably in place of metallic materials. Reliable and economical condition assessment methods have been identified as one of the keys to more widespread adoption of composite materials in hydraulic structures and piping.

The US Bureau of Reclamation is exploring technologies and methodologies which will allow for the inspection of components constructed of fiber-reinforced polymer composites made with glass fibers and thermoset resins such as epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester up to 1 inch thick. Any techniques brought forth must be suitable for use on hydraulic structures and piping, including gates, pressure vessels, storage tanks, and repairs.


The test methods must be able to detect expected damage mechanisms and sub-surface flaws including:

  • Delamination
  • Fiber disbondment from resin
  • Cracks / micro-fractures
  • Fiber breakage
  • Heat or chemical degradation, loss of strength
  • Voids
  • Insufficient resin saturation
  • Damage caused by impacts, fatigue, sustained loading (creep)


All techniques should be usable in situ when the component is dewatered during an outage or during normal operations. Techniques requiring access to both sides of a structure are not of interest because this is not possible or practical for buried/encased piping.

Possible Solution Areas

NDI applicable to other areas such as oil and gas and aerospace, but new to water management, may be relevant.

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Looking for innovation in NDI and to identify gaps in technology to be addressed.

Previously Attempted Solutions

Reclamation would be interested in current, step change innovation and techniques that significantly increase the suitability of even well-established areas to their application.

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