Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Dwayne McDaniel

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Aparna Aravelli

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Benjamin Boesl

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


internal pipe crawler, robotics, inspection, superheater tubes

Date of Defense



The power generation of fossil fuel power plants relies on burning coal to generate steam. The heat exchange between the water and burned coal occurs in the combustion chamber, which operates at a high pressure and temperature. Monitoring the integrity of the tubes inside the combustion chamber is a key factor to avoid failures. However, this is not an easy task as some areas are hard to reach and the pipeline commonly has a complex geometry. Moreover, the inspection is typically manual, external and the environment is hazardous for humans. This thesis presents the development and testing of an electrically powered pipe crawler that can navigate inside 5 cm diameter tubes and provide an assessment of their health. The crawler utilizes peristaltic motion within the tubes via interconnected modules for gripping and extending. The modular nature of the system allows it to traverse through straight sections and multiple 90and 180bends. Additional modules in the system include an ultrasonic sensor for tube thickness measurements, as well as environmental sensors, LiDAR, and a camera. These modules utilize a gear system that allows for 360rotation and provide a means of inspecting the entire internal circumference of the tubes.



Previously Published In

Caique Lara et al. “Development of an Innovative Inspection Tool for Super heater Tubes in Fossil Fuel Power Plants”. In:Materials Evaluation 79.7 (July 2021), pp. 728–738. DOI:10.32548/2021.ME-04212.



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