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Title: Feasibility of thickness mapping using ultrasonic guided waves
Author: Belanger, Pierre
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 9639
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2010
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Detection and sizing of corrosion in pipelines and pressure vessels over large, partially accessible areas is of growing interest in the petrochemical and nuclear industries. Traditionally, conventional ultrasonic thickness gauging and eddy current techniques have been used to precisely measure the thickness in structures. These techniques only allow the measurement of the local thickness under the probe. Consequently obtaining the remnant thickness of a specimen over a large area requires the probe to be scanned, which is a long and tedious process. Moreover, with these techniques, the scanning may become impossible when the area of inspection is inaccessible. There is therefore a need for a rapid, accurate, long range inspection technique to measure the remaining thickness in corrosion patches. Low frequency guided waves are now routinely used to screen large area of pipes and other structures for cracks and corrosion. Their detection and location capability is very good, but the standard screening technique only gives a rough estimate of the remaining wall thickness. Guided waves have multiple properties which can be used for thickness mapping over large partially accessible areas e.g. dispersion and cutoff frequency thickness product of the high order modes. The present work aims to demonstrate the potential of guided waves for thickness mapping over large partially accessible areas. It starts with a general introduction on ultrasonic guided waves and a literature review of the different techniques for the evaluation of thickness with guided waves. The severity of the errors introduced in time-of-flight tomography for thickness reconstruction by breaking the assumption of the ray theory are investigated. As these errors are significant, the possibility of using the cutoff property of the high order modes is investigated in a frequency range where the ray theory is valid. It is found that the attenuation due to the scattering of the waves in corrosion is too large for this technique to work. Finally the use of low frequency guided wave for diffraction tomography is examined. Finite element simulations of a 64 element circular array on a plate show that when the scattering mechanism of the object to be reconstructed satisfies the Born approximation the reconstruction of the thickness is accurate. However the practical implementation is more challenging when the incident field is not known. Experimental results demonstrate that ultimately the scattering from the array of transducer is a major source of error in the tomographic reconstruction, but when there is no scattering from the array of transducers the reconstructions are very similar to the finite element simulations.
Supervisor: Cawley, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral