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Title: Guided wave health monitoring of complex structures
Author: Clarke, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 8754
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2009
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Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems are widely regarded as capable of significantly reducing inspection costs of safety-critical structures in industries such as aerospace, nuclear, and oil and gas, among others. Successful SHM systems can be considered those which combine good sensitivity to defects, preferably with the capability of localization and identification, with a low sensor density. Techniques based on sparse arrays of sensors which generate and receive guided waves are among the most promising candidates. Guided waves propagate over large distances and certain modes have the ability to transmit through a variety of structural features leading to a relatively small number of distributed sensors being able to cover the structure. In complex structures, which contain high densities of structural elements, the timetraces obtained are often too complex to be directly interpreted due to the large number of overlapping reflections. In this case, the Baseline Subtraction technique becomes attractive. In this method a current signal from the structure is subtracted from a signal which has been acquired during the initial stages of operation of the structure. This eliminates the need for interpretation of the complex raw time signal and any defects will be clearly seen provided the amplitude of the residual signal obtained after subtraction of the baseline signal is sufficiently low when the structure is undamaged. However, it is well known that environmental effects such as stress, ambient temperature variations and liquid loading affect the velocity of guided waves; this modifies the time-traces and leads to high levels of residual signal if a single baseline, taken under different conditions, is used. Of these effects, temperature variations are the most commonly encountered and are critical since they affect not only the wave propagation but also the response of transducers. The present work aims to demonstrate the potential of guided wave health monitoring of large area complex structures. It starts with a general literature review on inspection and monitoring of large area structures, in which the advantages and disadvantages of this technique compared to other well-established SHM techniques are presented. The design and behaviour of two different temperature-stable transducers generating high A0 or S0 mode purity in the sub-200kHz frequency region are described. The effciency of different signal processing techniques aimed at reducing or eliminating the influence of temperature on wave propagation is evaluated and a temperature compensation signal processing strategy is proposed. Finally, a large metallic structure is used to demonstrate a sparse-array SHM system based on this signal processing strategy, and imaging algorithms are used to combine the information from a large number of sensor combinations, ultimately leading to the localization of defects artificially introduced in the structure.
Supervisor: Cawley, Peter Sponsor: CAPES
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral