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Title: The use of macro fiber composite transducers for ultrasonic guided wave based inspection
Author: Haig, Alexander George
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2013
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Sound can propagate for long distances with a low loss of intensity in objects whose geometry acts as a guide for the sound waves; a phenomenon that can be utilised for long range testing of structures. The guided sound waves can be used to conduct materials evaluation or to detect flaws, which can be done for a relatively large region of coverage from a relatively small region of access. In particular this technology can be used to inspect or monitor large engineering structures whose structural integrity is critical for safety and the environment, such as wind turbine towers, ship hulls, and pipelines. The use of guided waves for structural inspection is complicated by the existence of many wave modes. In this thesis, the Macro Fiber Composite (MFC) is characterised for its frequency, wavelength, wave mode and direction dependent sensitivity. These devices are flexible, light and thin, and, here have been shown to have wave mode sensitivity characteristics that are favourable for some applications. The MFC is a piezoelectric actuator that can be used to excite and sense in-plane vibrations at a structures surface. The surface area of an MFC is significantly large with respect to typical wavelengths used in ultrasonic guided wave applications, which combined with their in-plane extensional nature gives rise to a significantly wave mode, frequency and direction dependent sensitivity. This can limit their application, but can also potentially be exploited for greater wave mode control. A method for simulating the output from hypothesised transducer behaviour is shown and validated for the MFC. This allows their behaviour to be predicted for new structures. It is shown that their frequency response can depend on the waveguide and can vary with direction, which can lead to wave mode transmission and reception characteristics that may be advantageous for some methods of application and detrimental to others. A novel method of adapting a flexible transducer, such as the MFC, has been developed and its characterisation is given. It is shown that through the use of a decoupling membrane, an MFC can be caused to have very different wave mode sensitivity characteristics whilst retaining their light and flexible nature. These altered characteristics are favourable for applications where shear horizontal wave modes are required. Both fully coupled MFC transducers and the adapted MFC transducers are considered for application to pipeline testing. Fully coupled MFC transducers are used for inspection using longitudinal waves, whilst the adapted MFC transducers are used with torsional waves. These arrays are compared to a current commercial tool.
Supervisor: Balachandran, W. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ; TWI Ltd
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Structural health monitoring ; Nondestructive testing ; Inspection ; Lamb wave ; Long range