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Non-Intrusive Monitoring of Non-Return Valves

  • Award: $35000 USD
  • Challenge type: Theoretical IP Transfer
  • Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview


Check valves or non-return valves (NRV) are vital components of fluid handling systems that block back flow of the fluid. In normal operation these valves are open to allow fluid flow in one direction but close quickly to block flow in the opposite direction if conditions change in the system. In many cases these valves serve important safety functions and therefore proper operation must be assured. Testing of the valves typically require shutdown of the fluid system and is costly and time consuming. The Seeker is searching for innovative methods or technologies to assess the operational condition of NRV without requiring shutting down the system and/or removing or deconstructing the valve for testing and inspection.

This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.



Fluid handling and distribution systems are ubiquitous in many industrial settings including manufacturing plants, chemical plants, and oil and gas production facilities. These systems typically contain hundreds of check valves (also known as non-return valves, or NRV) to control the flow of fluids and many of these serve critical safety functions in the fluid system. Check valves allow the flow of fluid in one direction but block flow in the opposite direction. Under normal operating conditions the valve is open to allow flow but if system conditions change to the point where the fluid tries to flow in the opposite direction the valve will quickly close to prevent such back flow. Safety critical check valves (SCCV) must operate reliably and not demonstrate leakage when in the closed position. Regular inspection and testing of SCCV in any setting is typically mandated by applicable regulatory agencies. Currently, this testing is intrusive, expensive, and hard to conduct since it requires the shutdown of the fluid system to access the equipment. The Seeker’s goal is to find a technology that will enable it to safely defer or remove the need for such obtrusive inspection and testing. The difficulty is that SCCV are normally in the ‘flow open’ position and are not expected to close during normal operations so the proposed solution must determine whether the valves will safely close before they need to close, as opposed to checking whether a valve leaks once it has closed.

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker.

To receive an award, the Solvers will have to transfer to the Seeker their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the solution. However, the Seeker will be willing to consider a licensing agreement for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 15-Feb-2022.
Late submissions will not be considered.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge, meaning that Solvers must transfer all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.