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Title: Design and fabrication of GaPO4 ultrasonic transducer for NDT at high temperatures
Author: Kostan, Mario
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 8752
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2018
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There is a critical need for inspection and condition monitoring of high temperature critical components such as pipelines and welds in electrical power generation and other plants operating at temperatures as high as 580°C. The high temperatures and pressures experienced in these pipelines, particularly for ageing plants lead to creep, fatigue and corrosion type defects. Safety of these plants is of paramount importance, and regular maintenance is carried out during planned outages at ambient temperatures. Ultrasonic non-destructive testing can be used to detect defects in the weld at ambient temperatures. However, at high operational temperatures, this technique cannot be applied due to the lack of high temperature transducers. This research has achieved significant advances towards enabling ultrasonic inspection and condition monitoring of high temperature critical points, by developing an ultrasonic transducer around an advanced piezoelectric single crystal material, called Gallium Orthophosphate (GaPO4), which can operate at the required temperature of 580°C. Based on its reported piezoelectric and other properties, and its commercial availability, GaPO4 was chosen as a candidate active material for application in a prototype high temperature transducer. In a series of confidence building tests with the selected piezoelectric material (electrical characterisation via the impedance method), it has been demonstrated that the GaPO4 piezoelectric elements are stable when subjected to 580°C for more than 600 hours. Ultrasonic thickness gauging has shown that GaPO4 works as a functional transducer generating and receiving ultrasound waves at 580°C for at least 360 hours. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the GaPO4 transducer to detect defects with simple geometry was successfully tested through measurements on steel blocks containing artificial defects (side-drilled holes) up to the same high temperatures. Based on the characterisation results from the impedance and ultrasonic measurements, a prototype ultrasonic transducer for operation at high temperatures has been designed and manufactured. The new ultrasonic transducer was tested in a laboratory environment using a steel calibration block, high temperature couplant, SONO 1100, and an electric furnace. In the range from ambient temperatures up to the target of 580°C, the ultrasonic transducer kept a signal-to-noise (SNR) level sufficiently high, above the threshold of 6 dB, which is high enough for practical non-destructive testing and condition monitoring.
Supervisor: Gan, T-H. ; Wrobel, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Power plants ; Condition monitoring ; Single crystals ; Piezoelectric materials ; Impedance method