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Quantitative ultrasonic testing of acoustically anisotropic materials with verification on austenitic and dissimilar weld joints

: Boller, C.; Pudovikov, S.; Bulavinov, A.


Thompson, D.O. ; American Institute of Physics -AIP-, New York:
Review of progress in quantitative nondestructive evaluation. Vol.31. Pt.A : 38th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, U.S.A, July 17-22, 2011
Woodbury, NY: AIP Press, 2012 (AIP Conference Proceedings 1430)
ISBN: 978-0-7354-1014-5
ISBN: 978-0-7354-1013-8
ISBN: 0-7354-1013-5
Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation (QNDE) <38, 2011, Burlington/Vt.>
Fraunhofer IZFP ()
ultrasonic inspection; stainless steel weld; dissimilar weld; anisotropy; sampling phased array; gradient elastic constant descent method; inverse phase matching; 3D-visualisation

Austenitic stainless steel materials are widely used in a variety of industry sectors. In particular, the material is qualified to meet the design criteria of high quality in safety related applications. For example, the primary loop of the most of the nuclear power plants in the world, due to high durability and corrosion resistance, is made of this material. Certain operating conditions may cause a range of changes in the integrity of the component, and therefore require nondestructive testing at reasonable intervals. These in-service inspections are often performed using ultrasonic techniques, in particular when cracking is of specific concern. However, the coarse, dendritic grain structure of the weld material, formed during the welding process, is extreme and unpredictably anisotropic. Such structure is no longer direction-independent to the ultrasonic wave propagation; therefore, the ultrasonic beam deflects and redirects and the wave front becomes distorted. Thus, the use of conventional ultrasonic testing techniques using fixed beam angles is very limited and the application of ultrasonic Phased Array techniques becomes desirable. The "Sampling Phased Array" technique, invented and developed by Fraunhofer IZFP, allows the acquisition of time signals (A-scans) for each individual transducer element of the array along with fast image reconstruction techniques based on synthetic focusing algorithms. The reconstruction considers the sound propagation from each image pixel to the individual sensor element. For anisotropic media, where the sound beam is deflected and the sound path is not known a-priori, a novel phase adjustment technique called "Reverse Phase Matching" is implemented. By taking into account the anisotropy and inhomogeneity of the weld structure, a ray tracing algorithm for modeling the acoustic wave propagation and calculating the sound propagation time is applied. This technique can be utilized for 2D and 3D real time image reconstruction. The "Gradient Constant Descent Method" (GECDM), an iterative algorithm, is implemented, which is essential for examination of inhomogeneous anisotropic media having unknown properties (elastic constants). The Sampling Phased Array technique with Reverse Phase Matching extended by GECDM-technique determines unknown elastic constants and provides reliable and efficient quantitative flaw detection in the austenitic welds. The validation of ray-tracing algorithm and GECDM-method is performed by number of experiments on test specimens with artificial as well as natural material flaws. A mechanized system for ultrasonic testing of stainless steel and dissimilar welds is developed. The system works on both conventional and Sampling Phased Array techniques. The new frontend ultrasonic unit with optical data link allows the 3D visualization of the inspection results in real time.