How To Improve the Inspection of Pipes Using Infrared Thermography?



The idea was born, two years ago, after several failures of the pipe system which supply our town with hot water occured which resulted in the suspension of delivery for a longer period.

Common inspection methods such as ultrasonic wall thickness measurement and endoscopic testing are time-consuming and costly.

So I looked for simpler methods and techniques of pipe inspection.

The application of infrared thermography for pipe inspection as a non-destructive testing technique (IRNDT) is relatively new and particularly important given many advantages in comparison to other non-destructive testing techniques (NDT).

I decided to apply infrared thermography not only to solve the problem, but also to ensure preventive and/or predictive maintenance.

Both active and passive thermography were such promising techniques using an industrial-oriented infrared camera in achieving our goal.

To date, there is no standard practice or procedure for the application of these thermographic techniques in this field.

In the published articles [ 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] the results obtained refer to the laboratory conditions so that there is not enough practical experience.

In order to determine the detection limit, tests were carried out on pipe samples with artificially produced defects and in simulated conditions as close as possible to those operating within the temperature range from 300 K to 420 K.

Based on the performed experimentation and in-service obtained results it follows that the preferable technique for inspection of imperfections and damages in pipes is transient passive infrared thermography with improved delectability as specified by this contribution.

My future work will be directed to the application of infrared thermography as completely non-destructive technique in the evaluation of defect acceptability of smaller-diameter pipes.


Question / Proposal

As presented [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], this field is the subject of research and application in industrial piping in the last few years. In these works, often expensive and sophisticated equipment is used, which is not possible in many industrial sectors, or it is difficult to justify its application. While, for example, the application of active flash thermography technique is quite understandable in the aeronautical industry, in traditional industrial sectors that most often use water, hot water, steam or other media, it has a number of limitations and difficulties. I want to check which results can be obtained using an industrial-oriented infrared camera and how reliable are the obtained results.    


From a point of view of industrial use, we are constantly looking for techniques that are simpler to use and give reliable or better detection results than previously used techniques.

A typical infrared camera (Fluke Ti32) for industrial applications was used in various heating and cooling processes to collect thermograms supported by SmartView, Version 3.1 software for image processing and analysis..

In the articles [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], the results refer to pipes with a diameter greater than 80 mm and in this work the subject are the pipes with a diameter less than 80 mm. The obtained results, discussion and conclusion are relevant for pipes made of steel for elevated temperatures (low alloyed ferritic steel) and the temperature range from 300 K to 400 K.

Since the detectability depends on the sensitivity and resolution of the infrared camera, the pipe material, the temperature range and other parameters comparsion to other results is not justified.

The main intention is to further advance and develop reliable infrared techniques for detecting imperfections and damages in pipes that would improve industrial practice or even replace some commonly used methods and techniques..


Method / Testing and Redesign

Full section Methodology is presented in this document, attached via link and added as media.


Additional part not in attached document:

Application in Industrial Conditions


Both active and passive thermography were applied in the inspection of hot water supply, distribution piping of Zenica town and the distribution steam piping of heat exchanger. The maximum working temperature for the hot water piping is 120 ºC and for the heat exchanger 350 ºC. Inspection was carried out within limited extent with the main intention to verify (PDI) the possibility of detection of imperfections and damages by infrared thermography. At the points where infrared thermography indications were detected, additional ultrasonic and endoscopic testing was carried out to prove the presence of defects.


Results are presented in document attached via link and as media.








Based on the performed experimentation and in-service obtained results it follows that the preferable technique for inspection of piping is transient passive infrared thermography with the improved detectability as presented by this contribution.

By selecting the appropriate temperature range using a typical industrial-oriented infrared camera, it is possible to detect unacceptable defects and damages in pipes.

Regardless of the limitations and the need to consider the application influential parameters, passive transient infrared thermography have acceptable reliability and a number of advantages in the detection of imperfections and damages in pipes. In some cases, it is the only solution.


About me

My name is Melika Losic. I was born in a small city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From my early childhood, I am interested in Science. I have always enjoyed watching BBC and other types of documentaries as well as reading the articles, books and news about Science and Technology. 

My deep passion is Science,solving mathematical and Physics problems, researching, playing piano, reading, writing.

I have always loved researching and that is how I once got to know about Infrared Thermography. Winters can be really cold here, so my family and all the people in my city had a problem when central heating system was damaged and it took a long time to find and fix damages in pipes. That is why I tried to use my knowledge in order to find the solution and after analyzing the problem, I concluded that Infrared Thermography is suitable as a solution. And not only that it can be used for central heating system but also for all the other kinds of pipes with different fluid inside of them. After success in experimentation, I felt the inner happiness and this experince shaped me into a better scientist who wants to discover more and more and continue to research.

I have always been inpired by the work of Nikola Tesla, whose birth place is just a few hours far from my town. His imagination and creativity amaze me. He was the man who changed the life of many generations after him and  I hope that I would be able to do at least one small part of what he did in Science.

My dream is to work as a scientist at NASA and I hope to go to the college in the USA. 

Winning would surely give me courage to continue and not to give up on my dreams. I am from a small and poor country, and a lot of things here, especially regarding Science are a problem. It would be also a nice way of saying "Thank you" to my parents, who lost everything that they had during the war here and are not rich enough to afford many things, but thanks to their love and support I never felt the lack of anything.


Health & Safety

1. List and identify the hazardous activities or devices that will be used:

Working in the vicinity of high temperature objects (pipe samples or piping in service)

2. Identify and assess the risks involved:

Low risk (Level 2) of heat exposure

3. Describe the safety cares and procedures taken to minimize risks:

General precautions measures using protective clothing.

4. List the safety information source:

Federal law on Safety at Work No 22/90

Bibliography, references, and acknowledgements



1.Xavier P. V. Maldague, Theory and Practice of Infrared Technology for Non-destructive Testing, John Wiley & Sons, New York 2001.


2.C. L. Clemente, R. T. Jose and P. V. M. Xavier. Non-destructive Testing with Thermography, European Journal of Physics, 2013, 34(6), Pages S91-S109, Michael R. Sharlon. Active Thermography: An Overview of Methods and Their Applications in Use Today, 2008


4.P. Bouteile, G. Lagros, H. Walaszek and J. L. Bondnar. Non-destructive Testing Metallic Materials Using Passive and Active Infrared Thermography. Mechanics & Industry, Volume 15, Issue 4 2014:313-321


5.Xavier P. V. Maldague, Pipe Inspection by Infrared Thermography, Materials Evaluation, Volume 7, No 9, 1999


6.Michal Kopeć, Panagiotis Chatzipanagiotou, Gilbert de Mey and Boguslaw Wiezek. Detection of Inner Defects in Industrial Pipelines Using Transient IR Thermography, Measurement and Automation Monitoring, Mar. 2017, No. 3, Vol. 63


7.Safizadeh M. S. and Azzizadeh R. Corrosion Detection of Internal Pipeline Using NDT Optical Inspection System. NDT&E International 2012, Vol. 52: 144-148


8.G. Cadelano, A. Bortolini, G. Ferrarini, B. Molinas, D. Giantin, P. Zonta and P. Bison. Corrosion Detection in Pipelines Using Infrared Thermography: Experiments and Data Processing Methods. Journal of Non-destructive Evaluation, Issue 3, 2016

9.Liu Z., Genest M. and Krys D. Processing Thermography Images for Pitting Corrosion Quantification on Small Diameter Ductile Iron Pipe NDT&E International 2012, Vol. 47: 105-115

Bibliographic Review


After researching, no evidence of systematic research in this field and only a few references related to the topic are found.


1.Gogtian Shen and Tao Li. Infrared Thermography for high-temperature pressure pipes, Chapter 3. Infrared thermography for location internal defects in pipes available at


2.Xavier P. V. Maldague, Pipe Inspection by Infrared Thermography, Materials Evaluation, Volume 7, No 9, 1999, Subchapter 5.2 Case Study: Evaluation of Corrosion Damage to Pipes



I would like to express my gratitude to my  parents for their support and encouragement during realization of this project.

I am particularly grateful to the management and staff of Institute „Kemal Kapetanović“ in Zenica, for their contribution through the provision of pipe samples, equipment and space.