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Assessment defects using NDT for PP and PV

Assessment defects using NDT for PP and PV

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Int. 1. Pres. Ves. & Piping 73 (1997) 133-146 © 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Northern Ireland. All rights reserved 0308-0161/97/$17.00

PIl: 50308-0161(97)00042-2

NDE methodologies for characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures in pressure vessels and pipes

Baldev Raj & T. J ayakumar

Metallurgy and Materials Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam-603 102, India

Assessment of integrity of pressure vessels and pipes is becoming increasingly important for both economic and safety reasons. Presence of harmful defects, tensile residual stresses and unacceptable microstructures may affect the integrity of any component and therefore assessment of defects, residual stresses and microstructures is essential. Many non-destructive testing techniques are employed for high sensitive detection and complete characterisation of defects, evaluation of residual stresses and assessment of microstructures. In this paper, the experience of the authors on high sensitive detection of defects by ultrasonic testing using advanced signal analysis and pattern recognition methodologies in the case of austenitic stainless steel and thin walled Zircaloy-2 weldments: residual stresses measurements and evaluation of adequacy of post-weld heat treatment of simulated tube to tube sheet weld joints of the steam generators of the prototype fast breeder reactor and evaluation of ASME repair welding procedures from the residual stress point of view in the case of 9Cr-l Mo steel; and assessment of microstructural degradation in 9Cr-1Mo steel, creep damage in 0·SCr-0·SMo-O·2SV steel and detection of marteniste in AISI 304 type stainless steel is discussed. The miniature disc bend testing technology for evaluation of mechanical properties of components, particularly for obtaining individual properties of weld, HAZ and parent metal is also discussed. The development of expert systems for giving advice on optimum procedures for non-destructive testing and evaluation is also discussed. © 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.


Assessment of integrity of pressure vessels and pipes is becoming increasingly important for both economic and safety reasons. The integrity of any component depends on (i) absence of harmful defects, (ii) presence of residual stresses within acceptable levels if their elimination is not possible and (iii) presence of proper microstructure with desired mechanical properties that does not degrade under operating conditions. Therefore, non-destructive assessment of components for defects, residual stresses and microstructure plays a significant role during pre-service and in-service inspection for the evaluation of integrity of pressure vessels and pipes.

It is now widely accepted that all components including pressure vessels and pipes possess 'defects' from the start of their service life (this forms an important and initial assumption in fracture mechanics) and that the defect assessment is the way to control structural integrity reliably. Defects are those anomalies, which, when not removed or repaired,

might lead to ultimate loss of structural integrity of the material or component. Such defects include surface and sub-surface cracks, inclusions, pores, incompletely joined regions in welds or other joints and residual stresses, macro or microstructural . degradations, etc. in metallic materials. While surface defects are of immediate concern, sub-surface defects and other anomalies are also important for structural integrity. In either case, it is important to understand the factors that govern the likely growth of defects/ anomalies or cracks originating from them. In particular, the size of the defect, its nature, its location, the stress to which it is subjected to and the local properties of the material in which it is embedded will aU playa major role in determining its rate of growth. I According to fracture mechanics, defects present in materials lead to failure by growing to a critical, self-propagating size. The fracture mechanics concepts allow one to calculate the critical sizes of defects as a function of their depth, length, active stress system and stress intensity and such properties of the material as its elastic modulus, yield



B. Raj, T. fayakumar

strength and fracture toughness." On the contrary, by knowing the dimensions of defects present in a component, it is possible to estimate both remaining life of the component and extent of degradation.

In the pre-service scenario, defects may be present in the raw material stage or might have been introduced during machining, fabrication, heat. treatment and assembling of pressure vessels and pipes. Similarly, defects may be generated due to deterioration of the material/component/structure as a result of one or combination of the operating conditions like temperature, stress, chemical environment and irradiation leading to mechanisms such as creep, fatigue, stress corrosion, embrittlement, etc.

There are many Non-Destructive Test (NDT) techniques based on various physical principles. The interaction of a medium (like electromagnetic radiation, sound waves) with various types of anomalies present in a material under study are used to quantitatively assess the defects present in the material. Non-destructive evaluation (NDE) procedures involve establishing correlations between non-destructively measured physical/derived parameters and quantitative information about anomalies. To give an example, eddy current NDT involves measurement of impedance change and correlating it with the cause producing it such as change in electrical conductivity or change in microstructure or presence of a crack. There has been a continuous and ever increasing demand from the industry for the NDE professionals in developing new techniques and procedures to achieve 'Minimum defect component with maximum confidence and reliability' goal. There has been a tremendous effort put in to meet this challenge worldwide and encouraging results have been obtained. For example, due to fracture mechanics considerations, it is required to detect defects smaller than 100 microns in structures made of engineering ceramics. This requirement calls for development, implementation or application of high resolution and high sensitivity techniques. High frequency ultrasonics and microtomography are the two recently evolved techniques to meet the above demands. At the same time, industry is more conscious of utilising the benefits of NDE towards better performance and extension of life of various components/structures.

A wide variety of NDT techniques are available for characterisation of defects, residual stresses and microstructure. Some of the widely used techniques include: visual examination, liquid penetrant testing, leak testing, vibration monitoring, magnetic particle inspection, ultrasonic testing, eddy current testing, gamma and X-radiography, acoustic emission, tomography, magnetic flux leakage method, laser holography and interferometry, infrared thermography, etc. Broadly these techniques can be classified into two categories, depending on their nature of inspection

capability, viz. static techniques and dynamic techniques. While static techniques can be used to detect defects in materials off-line, dynamic techniques are used for on-line monitoring. Two widely used dynamic NDT techniques are acoustic emission and infrared thermography. All other techniques mentioned above come under the category of static techniques. Advanced concepts like signal analysis of NDT signals are being employed for enhancing the detection sensitivity of conventionally employed techniques like ultrasonic testing and eddy current testing. These advanced concepts play a significant role in high sensitive defect detection in welds in pressure vessels and pipes made of materials like austenitic stainless steels, as considerable grain scattering noise would interfere with the defect signals in the case of ultrasonic testing, resulting in poor signal to noise ratio, a handicap in conventional analysis.

Recently, imaging techniques are showing promise towards enhanced detection and characterisation of defects in components. It has often been said that an NDE image is worth a thousand NDE signals. NDE personnel feel more comfortable in interpreting images than analysing signals. Imaging can be done with many different media, including optical, infrared, X-ray, gamma-ray, ultrasound, eddy current, thermal wave and magnetic resonance etc. Thus, there is a broad spectrum of techniques from which a selection can be made. Infrared imaging, ultrasonic C-scan imaging, scanning acoustic microscopy, scanning laser acoustic microscopy, computer aided tomography and eddy current imaging are some of the techniques currently being used worldwide for wide ranging applications. Imaging format provides a global perspective of the inspected region and allows a balanced interpretation. Also, imaging techniques have the potential of automating the measurement process, providing estimates of defect size from the image data, producing accurate characterisation of cracks and improving the probability of detection.'

The state of art in NDE is the development of Expert Systems. Expert systems are interactive computer programs which attempt to simulate the expert's thought processes and provide a wide range of advice. The use of robotic devices for reliable NDE of pressure vessels and pipes is assuming great importance in many industries like nuclear, space and chemical, especially when there is a need for high probability of defect detection, reduction in radiation exposure to NDE personnel and limiting the operator dependency. Manipulators based on robot principles have come into existence and the demand for the manipulators with computerised data acquisition, processing and evaluation is growing faster for pre-service and in-service inspections."

In this paper, the authors' experiences and perspective on the use of advanced NDE techniques for characterisation of defects, stresses, and mic-

NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures

rostructures that are applicable to pressure vessels and pipes are discussed.


Pressure vessels and pipes in many chemical, petrochemical, process and nuclear industries are made of stainless steels and sometimes with maraging steels in critical aerospace applications. Detection of defects in welds made in these materials using ultrasonic testing poses a great difficulty because of poor signal to noise ratio of the ultrasonic signals. The noise due to grain scattering dominates the signal corresponding to a defect. Therefore, advanced signal analysis concepts like spectral analysis, pattern recognition, neural network analysis, etc. are




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Fig. 1. DMAC pattern for (a) a noise in an austenitic stainless steel weldment, (b) a 1 % notch in an austenitic stainless steel weldment.


employed in such cases. Dendritic (hence anisotropic) microstructures of these weldments, especially in the thickness range of 10-40 mm pose problems for ultrasonic testing. Considering these facts, the ASME boiler and presser vessel code has recommended that in the case of austenitic stainless steel weldments, any defect that is 10% of thickness should be recorded and monitored. In some cases, it may be desirable to detect defects of much less than 10% of the thicknesses. In this connection, signal analysis (SA) procedures, by using effective cluster and pattern analysis algorithms have been developed, in the authors' laboratory. These enable detection and characterisation of defects down to 1 % of weld thickness (14,0 mm weld thickness) in austenitic stainless steel welds, The complexity of the problem is an excellent area for the development of an expert system, for offering advice in order to carry out effective NDE on these weldments. Such an expert system developed in the authors' laboratory will be described later in this paper. In the case of maraging steel weldments used in the rocket motor casings by the aerospace industry, tight cracks (3 mm x i mm) produced by fatigue loading were detected and characterised in the authors' laboratory using cluster and pattern analysis principles." Detection of such small defects for this application, enhances the payload capacity of the rocket, resulting in significant economic and technological gains,

In both the above cases, the cluster and pattern analysis methods use the crosspower spectrum (between signals from weld noise and those from the defects), to obtain the cluster elements. The pattern analysis method generates a pattern called demodulated autocorrelogram (DMAC) from the autocorrelation function of a signal. Features of DMAC are studied for interpretation and evaluation, Figure l(a) and (b) shows the DMAC patterns for a typical noise and the defect signal from a 1 % of the wall thickness notch in an austenitic stainless steel weldment." It may be seen that the noise pattern has a greater number of lobes as compared to the pattern of the defect signal. The physical interaction of ultrasonic waves with the complex material microstructure manifests itself as a number of lobes in the signal processed DMAC pattern. The exact nature of the interaction and the model based approach to understand the DMAC patterns have not yet been established. Detailed discussion on this is beyond the scope of this paper. Figure 2 shows the clusters for a cross power data for maraging steel weldment." The coordinates of centroids for the noise-defect signals are higher than those for the noise-noise signals. Another example where advanced signal analysis concepts are employed is for ultrasonic inspection of end-cap weld joints in fuel elements of pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR).7

In PHWR, uranium dioxide fuel pellets are


B. Raj, T. Jayakumar

(a) Centroid of I quadranr-s-At l.S", 0.95)

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encapsulated in Zircaloy-2 cladding tubes of 0·37 mm thickness and sealed with end caps. Resistance welding of the end caps with these cladding tubes leaves a material upset both inside and outside on the joint. The outside upset is machined off leaving only a tiny step between the end cap and the cladding tube, but the inside upset remains. Figure 3 shows the cross-section of a typical end cap weld, with these upsets and ultrasonic ray propagation path. So far, helium leak test on all the weld joints and destructive metallographic tests on a sampling basis have been carried out to ensure the integrity of the weld joints. These techniques have their own limitations. Helium leak test detects only those defects which have passed 'through' the tube wall thickness. Metallography is a destructive test and reveals only the cut section, and cannot be carried out on all the joints. The quality assurance procedures do not give enough confidence

when the target is zero failure rate with the objective of keeping the coolant of nuclear reactors as less radioactive as possible. In the authors' laboratory, a solution has been found in this regard by developing ultrasonic testing aided by advanced digital signal analysis." UT of the end-cap weld joints poses several significant difficulties .

These are due to: (i) small dimensions (diameter of the tube and the wall thickness, etc.) involved, (ii) abnormal weld contours and (iii) stringent sensitivity requirements. The use of signal analysis technique on the ultrasonic echoes was expected to overcome these difficulties. In order to simulate the idealistic conditions, reference defects (holes) of 0·1 mm dia. and 5, 10, and 20% of the wall thickness depth were introduced at the 10 region and also on the 00 region of the weld joint using spark erosion machining (standardised at the authors' laboratory). The above reference defects were selected in order to find the level of detection sensitivity achievable and extract information on the defect sizes. The ultrasonic testing of the weld region is based on angle beam with shear wave using the immersion pulse echo method."

Since the signals from the geometrical features of the weld joints were found to vary between 17 and 35% full scale height (FSH), only 00 defects of 20% wt and above could be detected reliably by conventional UT technique. In the case of 10 and 5 % wt defects, the signals from the defects were fully masked by the signals due to geometrical features. Hence, in order to increase the sensitivity of defect detection down to 10% wt or less, digital signal analysis technique, particularly autopower spectral analysis, was explored. The autopower spectra of signals from the defects have a broad envelope pattern with or without small fluctuations in the spectrum envelopes. In the case of autopower spectra of signals due to the geometrical upset, the spectrum envelope has large fluctuations in its power (a number of narrow packets), often attaining zero or near zero

Path of ultrasonic beam


Cladding tube



Fig. 3. Cross section of typical end plug weld joint and ultrasonic ray propagation path in the end cap of the fuel element of a pressurised heavy water reactor-water

immersion ultrasonic testing.

NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures



Frequency (MHz)




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Fig. 4. Autopower spectrum of UT signal from (a) the geometrical upset of end plug, (b) a defect in the end plug.

values, which is not observed in the case of defect signal autopower spectra. Figure 4(a) shows the autopower spectrum of a signal from a geometrical upset, whereas Fig. 4(b) shows that from a defect. In the case of signals from geometrical upset, a large number of reflecting points from the boundary of the geometric upset .causes signals with similar spectral content but with a change in the phase due to temporal variation (different time of flight values of the ultrasonic signal reflecting from different points of the geometric upset) and the same can be explained in the following way:" the spectral content from any two points on the geometric upset giving identical amplitude but with 180° phase difference would get cancelled, thus the spectral pattern from the geometric upset manifests as large fluctuations in its power [a number of narrow packets-Fig. 4(a)]. Presence of a defect which shadows a portion of the geometric upset leads to reduced chances for obtaining signals with 180° phase difference thus reducing the chance for observing the pattern as shown in Fig. 4(a). Even with


a defect (0'034 mm) much smaller than the wavelength (0·236 mm), we could succeed in detecting the defects because of the shadowing effect. This explanation suggests that even when the defect is of the order of wavelength also, we would be able to detect the defects, without having the problem of multiple echoes and fluctuations in the power spectrum. It should be pointed out that the methodology adopted by us is essentially for detection of defects much smaller than the wavelength of the ultrasonic beam used. For defects of the order of wavelength, the conventional ultrasonic approaches without resorting to advanced signal analysis would be adequate. After establishing this approach with the help of fine artificial defects, a large number of production end cap welds which passed helium leak testing were subjected to digital ultrasonic signal analysis tests. The results from these studies were confirmatory with the earlier studies on artificial defects, thus establishing the validity of the signal analysis approach for defect detection in these weldments. This approach also paved the way for design and use of an automated workstation through which probe scanning, signal acquisition, digitisation and analysis, and classification can be performed.


The tube materials of steam generators of fast breeder reactors are mainly Cr-Mo steels. The importance of high integrity welds in steam generators is due to risks arising out of sodium water reaction consequent to the development of a leak path." Microfocal radiography technique with rod anode configuration has been standardised at the authors' laboratory for detection of porosities, the normally encountered defects in these welds.'! More than 100 trial weld joints were radiographed to establish the procedure for quality assurance. The weld joint specimens were prepared by butt welding of 2·25Cr-1 Mo tubes of 17·2 mm OD and 2·3 mm wall thickness. Autogenous TIG welding process was used from the bore side. A backward throw probe with a diameter of 10 mm and with a beam spread of - 5° x 55° x 360° was inserted from the tubesheet side and the radiography of the weld was carried out with a projective magnification of 3 x. A special radiographic cassette was designed and developed for this purpose.

Results on the trial welds of these tubes have shown that it is possible to resolve a 30-40 J-Lm diameter steel wire placed on the inside of the tube. This corresponds to 1· 3-1'6 % of the wall thickness of the tube. Radiographs taken during the developmental


B. Raj, T.layakumar

stage of the welding have revealed the following: (i) Too many minute gas porosities, the extent of which was to be reduced, (ii) weld joint line was found to be wavy due to imperfect tie-up, (iii) uneven reinforcements and (iv) significant weld ripple. The feedback information from the microfocal radiography studies were helpful to arrive at the correct weld parameters for an optimum weld joint. This work has shown how the microfocal radiography technique can be effectively used in coordination with the welding method for ensuring quality of heat exchanger assembly.


While inspection of pressure tubes made of nonferromagnetic materials by eddy current testing (ECT) is easy, ECT of ferromagnetic tubes, for example, heat exchanger tubes is difficult due to their high and continuously varying magnetic permeability. These variations produce high amplitude ECT signals that mask the signals from defects. The use of magnetic saturation can overcome these difficulties to a large extent, i.e. the ferromagnetic tubes can be satisfactorily inspected by ECT if they are magnetically saturated. In this area, the authors' laboratory has successfully designed a high strength for SrrrCo, permanent magnet based eddy current probe and results were evaluated using a calibration tube with artificial defects.!" For pre-service and in-service inspection of ferromagnetic tubes, a new technique that is showing great promise and potential is Remote Field Eddy Current Testing (RFECT). The primary advantages of this technique are (i) the ability to inspect tubular products with equal sensitivity to both internal and external metal loss or other anomalies, (ii) linear relationship between wall thickness and the measured phase lag and (iii) absence of lift-off problems. The technique features the ability to inspect both ferro and non-ferromagnetic materials with equal sensitrvity to internal or external anomalies. II Pioneering work has been carried out at the authors' laboratory with respect to the development of the RFECT instrument and the computer simulation of the technique. Wall loss down to 15% was detected using an indigenously developed RFECT instrument. The presence of transition and remote field zone and the affect of tube diameter and wall thickness on them have been studied using a 2D-FEM code." Efforts are underway to optimise the frequency and other parameters to obtain better detection sensitivity.

ECT has benefited with the availability of relatively low cost Personal Computers (PC) and the accompanying revolution in digital technology." A recent outcome of these advances in the area of ECT is Eddy

current imaging (ECI). A computer based ECI system has been developed at the authors' laboratory to scan the object surface and create impedance images in the form of gray levels or pseudo colours. This consists of a PC controlled X - Y scanner which scans the component point by point in a raster fashion with an ECT probe, acquires data using a 12 bit analogue to digital converter card, finally processes and displays data in the form of images. Using ECI, it is possible to obtain images of defects in two dimensions enhancing the defect detection capability. Fatigue cracks, corrosion pits, EDM notches and other types of defects have been imaged and characterised." In the case of fatigue cracks, ECI is found to be capable of revealing the orientation of the crack which is an important feature for fatigue crack growth and fracture mechanics studies. ECI has also been used to detect weld centre line in stainless steel welds with an accuracy of 0·1 mm. This would enable scanning of the welds during angle beam UT of pressure vessels and pipes thus giving accurate information on defect location.


Acoustic emission technique, being capable of detecting dynamic (growing) defects, has great potential for on-line integrity monitoring of pressure vessels and pipes. In this section, the potential of the AET together with UT has been demonstrated by taking a typical case study related to on-line structural integrity assessment of a carbon dioxide absorber vessel in a fertilizer plant." The case study shows use of NDE techniques for assessment of extent of damage, the growth direction of cracks, evaluation of the integrity and recommendation for its continued operation.

A carbon oxide absorber vessel, in an ammonia plant of a fertilizer plant, made of low carbon steel (39 m high and a maximum diameter of 3·5 m) had shown signs of deterioration (formation of cracks) in its conical portion during visual, liquid penetrant and magnetic particle inspection. However, it was not possible to decide whether these cracks were only in the fillet welds of cleats or penetrating into the shell thickness (dangerous from safety point of view). Ultrasonic normal beam and angle beam (45 and 60°) examinations were carried out after setting the equipment sensitivity levels using a full scale mock up consisting of simulated defects. Whenever defect indications were observed, the skip distances with respect to probe, beam path distance, echo amplitude, etc. were recorded and evaluated for location, orientation and extent of defects.

NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures

In order to study the crack growth and its characteristics, on-line AET was carried out for a continuous period of 4 months with on-line recording of AE data. Linear location method was followed to arrive at the exact location of defects. UT was once again repeated after AE studies to study the growth characteristics. Excellent correlations were observed between UT and AE results. Nucleation of new defects and extension of already existing cracks, identified by AE were confirmed by UT. The results also showed that the cracks were confined to the welds and were not entering the shell wall, thus, indicating no damage to the absorber vessel.


One of the emerging possibilities to effectively utilise the knowledge explosion is to explore the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) wherever applicable. Successful implementations of AI concepts, in the form of verified and validated expert systems (ES) and knowledge based inference mechanisms have been realised." An ES is ideally suited (a) when problems cannot be well defined analytically, and the number of alternate solutions is large, (b) the domain of knowledge is vast and (c) relevant knowledge needs to be identified rapidly, as it is to be used selectively. A large number of welded austenitic stainless steel components (AUSS) are being used in the power industry, both thermal and nuclear. AUSS welds having complex geometries, that require periodic NDE, are frequently encountered in these industries. Early detection of fine defects in these welds before and during service, using ultrasonic testing (UT) is mandatory. The problem of defect detection and characterisation in these welds, using UT, is complex and difficult when thickness of weldment is more than 10 mm. Also, there is still no standardised procedure concerning the ultrasonic inspection technique to be applied. The test method must be optimised specifically for each individual object to be examined. Apart from the problem due to the dendritic microstructure of these weldments, other factors such as the weld dimensions, geometry, joint type, welding procedures used, metallurgical history of the weld, reflective characteristics of various types of defects and the UT procedure, probe and scanning method used, the ultrasonic equipment used are some factors that affect the reliability of defect detection and characterisation in these weldments. It is also well known that a wealth of knowledge has been published in each of the areas mentioned above. Undoubtedly, due consideration must be given to all the above facts before deciding on the ultrasonic method to be adopted for the NDE of these welds.


The knowledge and databases pertaining to these aspects is very large, but the expertise to assimilate and apply this large amount of knowledge is scarce. Intelligent and timely application of this knowledge is the key for improving the efficiency of UT of AUSS welds. Human experts have expertise in specific areas; the complete problem of ultrasonic testing of AUSS welds requires the right combination of expertise.

Proper organisation and effective use of the available knowledge, in the form of an integrated expert system (ES), will help taking quick and reliable decisions regarding ultrasonic procedures and techniques (conventional/signal analysis) to be adopted for efficient non-destructive evaluation of these welds. Such an integrated prototype rule based expert system (ES), has been developed in the authors' laboratory,

to be used as an advisor for UT of AUSS welds. '

The performance of the expert system has been assessed by judging the flexibility of the design, the user friendly nature of the ES, the number of constructive rule firings (number of rules successful out of the total number of rules present in the ES) per second, the maximum and the average time taken by the ES to arrive at a solution are some of the criteria used for evaluating the ES. The inference engine offers advice on 12 issues that are critical for the inspection of any AUSS weld. They are (a) UT technique to be used (A-scan, B-scan, etc.), (b) mode of contact to be used (contact, immersion or non-contact), (c) wave mode to be used (longitudinal, shear, etc.), (d) size of the probe to be used, (e) angle, (f) frequency, (g) skip, (h) speed of testing, (i) directions to be tested, (j) overlap of probe movements, (k) necessity for zoning of the welds and (I) necessity for contouring the probes. Whenever multiple solutions exist for an issue, the ES will grade these solutions in the order of priority, to give complete advice to the user. A similar expert system for radiographic testing has also been developed. Development of an expert system for eddy current testing is in progress.


Residual stresses are introduced in pressure vessels and pipes during fabrication (including the welding process) and in-service due to loading conditions. For example, the stresses are introduced during the welding process due to non-uniform heat distribution taking place during the welding process. Several destructive and non-destructive techniques are presently available for the residual stress measurements. Destructive techniques cannot be applied on finished components and are time consuming and uneconomical. Therefore non-destructive techniques are preferred for residual stress measurement.F Some of these techniques include: (i) Ultrasonic (ii) X-Ray


B. Raj, T.layakumar

Diffraction (XRD), (iii) Acoustic Barkhausen Noise (ABN) and (iv) Magnetic Barkhausen Noise (MBN). Additionally, the semi-destructive hole-drilling strain gauge technique is also employed for measurement of residual stresses.

The ultrasonic technique of evaluating residual stresses is based on the measurement of changes in the velocity of ultrasonic waves due to stress and by establishing the acoustoelastic constant. Several methods using ultrasonic waves of various types such as longitudinal, transverse and surface waves have been tried with varying degree of success for weldments.

The XRD technique measures the change in the interplanar spacing of the lattice in the presence of stresses in a material. It is well known that peak intensity of diffracted X-ray beam occurs when Bragg's law is satisfied. In the presence of elastic macro stresses there is a shift in the diffraction peak positions. The magnitude of the shift gives a measure of the stress and the direction of the shift depends on the nature of the stresses, i.e. whether they are tensile or compressive.

MBN and ABN techniques are based on the Barkhausen effect and are applicable only to ferromagnetic metals and alloys. The Barkhausen effect takes place when a magnetic field is swept in the material along a hysteresis loop. MBN is due to irreversible change in magnetic domain movements during hysteresis and ABN is due to elastic deformation associated with magnetic domain rotation during irreversible changes in magnetization. MBN signals can be acquired by sensor coil or by Hall type probe and ABN signals are acquired by a piezoelectric transducers. Both MBN and ABN signals are strong functions of microstructure and stress condition and hence stresses can be assessed by analysing the MBN and ABN signals.

In the hole-drilling strain gauge technique, a specially configured three element rosette is bonded to the component and a small hole is drilled into the component through the rosette centre. The measured (relieved) strains in three directions are useful in determining the magnitude of maximum and minimum principal stresses and their directions. Usually, a small hole of 1·6 mm diameter drilled to a depth of 2 mm is involved in relieving the stresses and this may not impair the structural integrity of the pressure vessels and pipes and hence this technique is considered as a semi-destructive technique. It is also possible to repair weld the hole, if necessary.

Several thickness carbon steel and austenitic stainless steel weld pads were fabricated and through thickness residual stress measurements were made by using precise ultrasonic velocity measurements. Precise ultrasonic transit time measurements were made by the pulse-echo overlap technique and using a 2 MHz longitudinal wave transducer. Residual stress

measurements made on 15 mm AISI type 304 stainless steel weldment indicate that the stresses at the weld are tensile in nature and it changes over to compressive at the heat affected zone (HAZ). The pattern again become tensile further away at the parent metal. A similar trend was also seen in the case of 47 mm thick SS weldment except at the weld centre line, where ultrasonic technique could not be used due to intense scattering taking place at the thick textured weld structure. The results of the ultrasonic technique have been supplemented by hole drilling strain gauge technique.

Carbon steel weld pads of 8 and 12 mm thickness were prepared and residual stress measurements were carried out before and after post-weld heat treatment using ultrasonic, XRD and ABN techniques. The XRD and the ultrasonic results show that the trends in the surface stress variations can be different from those occurring in the thickness direction. The ABN results have shown good correlation with respect to the effect of annealing and it can be used to monitor the effect of stress relief annealing. Results also indicate that the restraint effects in the thickness direction are opposite to that at the surface.

Residual stress measurements were made on an explosively welded aluminium and stainless steel dissimilar metal weldment by XRD technique. The plate thickness of aluminum and stainless steel used was 15 and 25 mm, respectively, and the specimen size was 100 X 50 X 40 mm. Results indicated that the magnitude and nature of residual stresses observed in both aluminium and stainless steel phases at the interface are the same. The explosive energy applied for welding is found to influence the region within 10 mm on both sides of the weld interface. Beyond 10 mm, the residual stresses become equal to the residual stresses originally present in the plates prior to explosive welding.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of post weld heat treatment (PWHT) for releasing the residual stresses in 2·25Cr-lMo steel tube to sheet weld joint of the proto type Fast Breeder Reactor steam generator has been carried out by MBN analysis. IS Apart from the requirement in the quality control procedure that the tube to tube sheet weld joints should be free from unacceptable defects that may lead to leakage paths as discussed earlier, it is also considered essential that post-weld heat treatment (PWHT) should be used for removing most of the residual stresses whose presence, may also lead to the failure of the tube to tube-sheet weld joint. MBN measurements have been used to assess the residual stresses. MBN measurements were made at the weld centre, 5, 15, and 25 mm from the weld centre on both sides of the weldment. The measurement positions were selected in such a way as to cover weld, HAZ and base metal regions. After the measurements in the as-welded condition, the tubes were post weld heat treated at 973 K for 1 h

NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures

* Tube I 0 Tube 2 • Tube 3





...: 1.25



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Distance from the weld centre (mm)

Fig. 5. Peak height value of the MBN signal at different positions before and after PWHT.

followed by air cooling. Again the MBN measurements were repeated at the same locations after removing the oxide layer. Figure 5 shows the MBN peak height at different locations before and after PWHT for three tubes. It can be seen from Fig. 5 that, after PWHT, the MBN peak height becomes more or less the same at all locations. There is a large increase in the MBN peak height in the weld and HAZ regions after PWHT as compared to base metal regions. This is attributed to the removal of residual stresses and reduction in dislocation density in the weld and HAZ during PWHT. It is possible to evolve an acceptance criterion based on MBN peak height values to ensure the effectiveness of PWHT.


Repair welding of pressure vessels and pipes is a technology which has several important implications for industries in today's economic scenario. It would help in extending the life of these components. ASME Section III and XI code recommends half bead and butter bead temper bead methods for repair welding as these methods do not need post weld heat treatment. It was reported that, since the microstructure and microhardness in the weld and HAZ are acceptable, PWHT is not necessary. However, to the best of the authors' knowledge, studies have not been reported on the nature and magnitude of residual stress distribution after repair welding to ensure that the stresses are also within acceptable limits. Therefore, studies have been carried out at the authors' laboratory by making X-ray diffraction based residual stress measurements in repair welded samples of 9Cr-lMo steel, to assess the different repair weld methods."

Four repair welded samples made of different


methods were taken for this purpose. In the conventional method (specimen A), repair welding was carried out by simply filling the defective portion by depositing layers of molten metal. In the ASME recommended half-bead method (specimen B), a layer of molten metal was first deposited on the defective portion. After cooling the first layer, half thickness of the first layer was removed mechanically and then the second layer of the molten metal was deposited over this. In the other ASME recommended butter bead temper bead method, after depositing the first layer, the second layer was deposited with higher heat input, using higher current (specimen C) or higher diameter electrode (specimen D). In all the three ASME methods, the microstructure of the HAZ formed during first layer deposition gets transformed to an acceptable structure. Figure 6 shows the distribution of residual stresses across the weld (the direction of residual stress is perpendicular to the weld line) for the four specimens. It is clear from Fig. 6 that, in all the m ethods, the stresses in the weld centre are tensile with the values in the range 260-300 MPa. The specimen D shows the compressive stresses in the HAZ (5 mm from the weld centre line) as compared to tensile stresses seen in the HAZ region in the case of other specimens. Since HAZ is weak in the case of 9Cr-lMo steel and prone to failure, the method used for making specimen D, i.e. butter bead temper bead method using a higher diameter electrode, is most suitable as it avoids tensile stresses in the HAZ region. This study also pointed out that if high tensile stresses are to be avoided in the weld region, post weld heat treatment becomes necessary even if the


Position W.r.t. weld centre (ern)

Fig. 6. Residual stress distribution of all repair welds.


B. Raj, T. layakumar

ASME recommended methods are used for repair welding.


As indicated earlier, it is necessary to ensure that desired microstructures with optimum properties are obtained in the fabricated and heat treated components. Additionally, assessment of deterioration of materials and components (by microstructural degradation) that takes place in-service due to operating conditions like temperature, stress, chemical and radiation environment is also essential. The major mechanisms responsible for deterioration include corrosion, creep, fatigue, stress corrosion, and embrittlement. These damage mechanisms are associated with the progressive changes in microstructures and sub-structures taking place and lead to deterioration in mechanical properties, crack initiation and propagation. Detection and assessment of changes in microstructures and substructures by nondestructive testing techniques help in assessment of degradation in components and structures and enable life prediction and extension. Presently in-situ metallography is one NDT technique that is mainly used in actual components-specially for those components operating at high temperatures." While this technique can give information at representative locations, adoption of other NDT techniques would have the advantage of obtaining information from the whole volume. Two of the potential NDT methods for evaluation of microstructural degradation are ultraso-


15 MHz longitudinal

• Ref. specimen 0823 K

'" 923 K

Ii.l 1023 K

I Scatter band

Ageing time (h)

Fig. 7. Variation in ultrasonic velocity with ageing time at 1023 Kin 9Cr-lMo steel.

nic and micro-magnetic techniques. Studies have been made to find out the influence of various microstructural features such as secondary phases, creep damage, etc. in materials including A533B steel, 0·25Cr-0·5Mo-0·25V steel, 9Cr-1Mo steel, 17-4-PH steel, AISI type 304 stainless steel and Nimonic Alloy PE16 on ultrasonic velocity and magnetic Barkhausen noise parameters have been studied." Some of the results obtained from these studies are given below.

9.1 9Cr-1Mo steel

This ferritic steel is a candidate material for boiler / super heater steam circuitry of power plants and core components of sodium cooled fast breeder reactors. The steel is used in the standard heat treated condition, i.e. normalising at 1323 K for 30 min followed by tempering at 1023K for 1 h which gives stable microstructure with optimum properties. In order to evaluate the long term stability of the microstructures, thermal ageing at 823, 923 and 1023 K has been carried out in different specimens for a maximum duration of 1000 h. Figure 7 shows the variation in ultrasonic velocity with ageing time at 823, 923 and 1023 K.22 Precipitation of M2X along with small amounts of ferrite formation (by dissolution of martensite) up to 1000 h at 823 and 923 K and during initial periods of ageing at 1023 K increases the velocity. Extensive ferrite formation by dissociation of martensite at longer ageing periods at 1023 K decreases the velocity. Therefore, any increase in velocity with time at a particular location on a component should indicate precipitation of essentially M2X with very small or no ferrite formation. On the other hand, any decrease in velocity with time would indicate definite ferrite formation.

9.2 Assessment of creep damage in ferritic steels

Ultrasonic velocity measurements have been used to assess the creep damage in new and service exposed 0·5Cr-O·SMo-0·25V and 1Cr-0·SMO ferritic steels." The density of the material is related to the cavity formation in the material, which, in turn, is related to the extent of creep damage. Velocity is related to the cavity formation, i.e. velocity decreases with increase in cavity formation. Any increase in velocity then should indicate creep damage. A good correlation between the velocity and the density could be obtained on laboratory samples and the samples prepared from the service exposed components. By velocity measurements, it is also possible to detect any presence of oriented cavities/microcracks by using the velocity measured in different directions by both longitudinal and shear waves. Figure 8 is an example showing the correlation obtained between the decrease in velocity and density changes for longitudinal and shear waves in the case of creep

NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures


L - Wave 10MHz

o vila .v1.a


Strain (%)


T - Wave 5MHz

o vila .L> vLo


Strain (%)

Fig. 8. Variation in change in ultrasonic velocity with change in density in creep tested 0·5Cr-0·5Mo-0·25V steel: (a) longitudinal wave 10 MHz, (b) transverse wave 5 MHz.

tested 0·5Cr-0·5MO-0·25V steel." It can be seen that the velocity change is less for longitudinal waves propagating perpendicular to the load direction as compared to that in the load direction. This indicates that the cavity chains/microcracks are aligned perpendicular to the load direction.

9.3 Cold worked AISI type 304 stainless steel

Deformation of AISI type 304 stainless steel leads to precipitation of soft and magnetic b.c.c. a I -martensite phase. Therefore, detection of the presence of a I -rnartensite phase in a component made of 304 stainless steel indicates, for example, unacceptable deformation due to fatigue damage, overloading, etc. Efforts are being made to develop techniques/systems based on Mossbauer spectroscopy, hysteresis loop based analysis, MBN analysis and a system based on a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) sensor for detection of this magnetic phase with high sensitivity. In this study the MBN technique has been employed. Specimens with different martensite contents were obtained by cold working the solution annealed specimens to different extents, in


the range 10-50%. The parameter Mmax has been measured for different specimens at different magnetic field frequencies" and the same is shown in Fig. 9. The increase in Mmax with an increase in cold work is attributed to the increase in the amount of martensite. The presence of the magnetic phase could be detected even in 10% cold worked specimens, particularly at the higher applied field frequency, i.e. 10 Hz. This study points out the possibility for early detection of deformation related damages, like fatigue damage, taking place at room temperature and below in components made of 304 stainless steel, by monitoring the a I -martensite formed during the damage process.


This innovation is a spin off from nuclear technology where experimental irradiation programs require the use of very small specimens. The technique can be used very effectively in aged pressure vessels and pipes to find out the accumulated damage and for life extensions. Mechanical property assessment of weldment and heat affected zones (HAZ) in pressure vessels and pipes is essential in assessing the quality of the weld. MDBT employs a 3 mm diameter and 0·2-0·3 mm thick circular disc, similar to a transmission electron microscopy specimen. The testing involves the axisymmetric bending of disc specimens, using a hemispherical punch and test fixture as shown in Fig. 10. At the authors' laboratory, AET has been employed for the first time in combination with MDBT for more accurate property evaluation. The figure also shows the positioning of an acoustic

x 50 mHz II

.1 Hz II 010 Hz II L> 10 Hz 1.

20 30

Cold work (%)

Fig. 9. Variation in MBN r.m.s. voltage peak height with cold work in AISI type 304 stainless steel.






B. Raj, T. layakumar

200r--------------------------- __ ~

AE probe

2. Locating disk


1. Punch

3. Miniature specimen

Fig. 10. MDBT fixture with AE probe.

emission (AE) probe. Figure 11 shows a typical load-deflection curve obtained by MDBT.

The whole curve can be divided into five regions as marked in the figure. Region 1 is the initial linear elastic region and region 2 represents behaviour when the specimen undergoes plastic deformation. The load at measurable deviation from linearity (transition from region 1 to region 2) is a reasonable indicator of yield strength (YS). Region 3 marks the transition from bending to membrane stretching, while in region 4 the membrane stretching regime spreads to most parts of the specimen volume. Region 5 indicates fracture of the disc specimen. Total deflection till failure and total area under the curve are measures of material ductility and toughness, respectively. MDBT test fixture and yield strength calculation methods were developed and used for a variety of specimens in the authors' laboratory." The results have shown good correlations between the yield strength data obtained using conventional test specimens of the same material. One of the important applications where MDBT has been used relates to a failure analysis of an aluminium vessel weldment, which had failed in service. The sample sizes available for analysis were small and conventional test methods


Region 5

Region 4

Deflection (mm)

Fig. 11. Qualitative interpretation of a disc bend load vs deflection curve.

could not be employed. However, MDBT could clearly bring out the deficiency in a defective weldment that had led to premature failure of the vessel (Weld No. 8 in Fig. 12). The defective weld region in the failed piece is seen to have higher YS, reduced ductility and toughness. Many a time, due to variation in thickness of the specimen used for MDBT


Weld number 3

Deflection (mm)

Fig. 12. Load vs deflection curves till failure.


NDE characterisation of defects, stresses and microstructures







0.06 Deflection (rnrn)

Fig. 13. Variation in load and r.m.s. voltage of AE signal with deflection.



and the misalignment of the specimen axis and loading axis, there is a difficulty for unambiguous identification of the yield load. Acoustic emission (AE) monitoring during MDBT has been employed in order to identify the yield load reliably. Yielding leads to unique AE activity that is easily identifiable. AE r.m.s. voltage pattern, superimposed on a load deflection curve obtained using MDBT, recognises the yield point in an unambiguous manner. A typical example giving the variation in load and the r.m.s. voltage of the AE signal with deflection is given in Fig. 13. In this case, the yield load corresponding to peak in AE is higher as compared to that obtained form the load-deflection curve. Systematic studies carried out indicated that yield stress calculated using the load corresponding to the peak in AE activity (rather than using the load corresponding to deviation from linearity in the load-deflection curve) is closer to the yield stress obtained from the conventional tensile testing. Thus, AE monitoring during MDBT provides an authoritative way to determine the on-set of yielding.


The experience of the authors' on the use of NDT techniques for high sensitive defect detection and characterisation, and evaluation of residual stresses and microstructures has been discussed. Use of advanced signal analysis methodologies for high sensitive defect detection by ultrasonic NDT techniques has been described. Microfocal radiography for porosity detection in tube to tube sheet weld joints and development of methodologies for inspection of ferromagnetic tubes have been discussed. MBN analysis for assessment of adequacy of PWHT for' release of residual stresses in tube to tube sheet weld joints has also been given. The ultrasonic and magnetic techniques for assessment of microstructural


degradation have also been given by taking a few examples. Advantages of use of expert systems for NDT techniques and the developments made in this direction have also been discussed.


The authors wish to thank Dr Placid Rodriguez, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, for keen interest and constant encouragement. The authors also wish to thank many of their colleagues in the Division for PIE and NDT Development for their contributions.


1. Silk, M. G. and Whapham, A. G., Living with defects.

Brit. 1. of NDT, 1989,31,307-313.

2. Levinson, D. W., Some implications of fracture mechanics for non-destructive testing. Proc. of Int. Adv. in NDT, Vol. 7. Gordon & Breach, 1981, pp. 1-11.

3. Baldev Raj, Status of NDE research and applications in India. Proc. of the 7th Asia-Pacific Cant on NDT, Shanghai, China, 1993, pp. 18-37.

4. Baldev Raj, Looking into the future: new techniques in NDT and their potentials. Proc. of NDE-92, ed. C R. L. Murthy, Baldev Raj, O. Prabhakar and A. Sreenivasulu. Interline Publishing, Bangalore, 1992, pp. 23-38.

5. Kalyanasundaram, P., Baldev Raj, Barat, P. and Jayakumar, T., Reliability of detection of small defects in noisy weldments by advanced signal processing and pattern recognition techniques. Int. 1. of Pres. Ves. & Piping, 1989,36,103-109.

6. Kalyanasundaram, P., Rajagopalan, C, Baldev Raj, Prabhakar, O. and Sarma, D. G. R., High sensitivity detection and classification of defects in austenitic weldments using cluster analysis and pattern recognition. Brit. 1. of NDT, 1991,33,290-297.

7. Subramanian, C V., Thavasimuthu, M., Rajagopalan, C, Kalyanasundararn, P. and Baldev Raj, Development of ultrasonic test methodology for PHWR fuel end cap weld joints. Materials Evaluation, 1995,53, 1290-1295.

8. Spalaris, C N. and Ring, P. J., Welding for the CRBRP Steam Generators in Welding and Fabrication in Nuclear Industry. British Nuclear Energy Society, London, 1979, pp. 19-27.

9. Venkatraman, B., Sethi, V. K., Jayakumar, T. and Baldev Raj, High definition radiography of tube to tubesheet welds of steam generator of prototype fast breeder reactor. Insight. 1995, 37, 189-192.

10. Shyarnsunder, M. T., Rao, B. P. C, Babu Rao, C, Bhattacharya, D. K. and Baldev Raj, Partial saturation eddy current inspection of ferromagnetic steam generator tubes. Proc. N DE -93, Madras, 1993.

11. Schmidt, T. R., The remote field eddy current inspection techniques. Materials Evaluation, 1984, 42, 225-230.

12. Rao, B. P. C, Babu Rao, C and Baldev Raj, Modelling of remote field eddy current test phenomenon. Proc. of NDE-93, Madras, 1993.

13. Rao, B. P. C, Shyamsunder, M. T., Babu Rao, C, Bhattacharya and Baldev Raj, Computers in eddy current testing. Insight, 1992, 36,434.


B. Raj, T. Jayakumar

14. Rao, B. P. c., Shyamsunder, M. T., Babu Rao, C. and Baldev Raj, Eddy current impedance imaging of surface defects. Proc. of 7th Asia-Pacific Can! on NDT, Shanghai, China, 1993, pp. 687-693.

15. Subramanian, C. V., Thavasirnuthu, M., Jayakumar, T., Baldev Raj, Murthy, C. R. L. and Bhat, M. R., On-line structural integrity assessment of a carbon dioxide absorber vessel in an ammonia unit of a fertilizer plant. Proc. National Welding Seminar, New Delhi, India, 1989, pp. 3.1-3.8.

16. Rajagopalan, c., Kalyanasundararn, P. and Baldev Raj, An expert system to aid ultrasonic testing of austenitic welds. Proc. NDE-92, ed. C. R. L. Murthy, Baldev Raj, O. Prabhakar and A Sreenivasulu. Interline, Vol. 1, Bangalore, 1992, pp. 155-168.

17. Palanichami, P., Joseph, A, Bhattacharya, D. K. and Baldev Raj, Residual stresses and their evaluation in welds. In Welding Engineering Handbook, Vol. 1, ed., S. Sundarrajan et at. Secunderabad, 1992, pp. 269-294.

18. Moorthy, V., Vaidyanathan, S., Jayakumar, T. and Baldev Raj, Evaluation of PWHT in 2'25Cr-lMo steel tube to tube sheet weld joints using magnetic Barkhausen noise measurements. Proc. National Welding Seminar (NWS-95), Cochin, India, 1995.

19. Sanjay, K. Rai, Sujith, S., Jayakumar, T. and Gill, T. P.

S., Assessment of repair welding methods from residual stress point of view. Proc. National Weld Meet, Indian Institute of Welding, Visakhapatnam, India, 1995.

20. Viswanathan, R., Damage Mechanisms and Life Assessment of High Temperature Components. ASM International, OH, 1989.

21. Jayakumar, T., Baldev Raj and Rodriguez, P., Assessment of microstructural degradation in metallic materials by acoustic and magnetic methods. Proc. Int. Symp. on Inelastic Deformation, Damage and Life Analysis (ICES-95), Hawaii, 1995.

22. Rao, B. P. C., Jayakumar, T., Bhattacharya, D. K. and Baldev Raj, New methodology for precise ultrasonic velocity measurement and its applications. 1. Pure and Appl. Ultrasonics, 1993, 15,53-59.

23. Willems, H., Jayakumar, T., Koble, T. D. and Theiner, W. A, Application of ultrasonic and micromagnetic testing methods for creep damage assessment. COST 501/11 WP 5C, 2nd Annual Report on Project D4, IzfP, Saarbruecken, Germany, 1990.

24. Jayakumar, T., Koble, T. D., Theiner, W. A and Baldev Raj, Magnetic methods for characterisation of cold rolled AISI type 304 stainless steel. Nondestr. Test. Eval., 1993,10,205-214.

25. Muralidharan, N. G., Jayakumar, T., Rakesh, Kaul, Ramabathiran, A, Kasiviswanathan, K. V., Bhattacharya, D. K. and Baldev Raj, Acoustic emission monitoring during miniaturised disc bend testing of stainless steel and aluminum alloy. Proc. Seventh Asia-Pacific Conference on NDT, Shanghai, China, 1993, pp. 768-785.

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