Guided wave testing

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This illustrates the difference in concept beteen conventional UT and guided ave testing
Guided Wave testing (GWT) is one of latest methods in the field of non$destructive evaluation.
The method employs mechanical stress aves that propagate along an elongated structure hile
guided by its boundaries. This allos the aves to travel a long distance ith little loss in
energy. %oadays, "WT is idely used to inspect and screen many engineering structures,
particularly for the inspection of metallic pipelines around the orld. &n some cases, hundreds of
meters can be inspected from a single location. There are also some applications for inspecting
rail tracks, rods and metal plate structures.
Although Guided wave testing is also commonly known as Guided Wave Ultrasonic Testing
(GWUT) or Long Range Ultrasonic Testing (LRUT), it is fundamentally very different to
conventional ultrasonic testing Guided wave testing uses very low ultrasonic fre!uencies
com"ared to those used in conventional UT, ty"ically #etween $%&$%%k'( 'igher fre!uencies
can #e used in some cases, #ut detection range is significantly reduced )n addition, the
underlying "hysics of guided waves is more com"le* than #ulk waves +uch of the theoretical
#ackground has #een addressed in a se"arate article )n this article, the "ractical as"ect of
GWT will #e discussed
The study of guided aves propagating in a structure can be traced back to as early as the '()*s,
mainly inspired by the field of seismology. +ince then, there has been an increased effort on the
analytical study of guided ave propagation in cylindrical structures. &t as only in the early
'((*s that guided ave testing as considered as a practical method for the non$destructive
testing of engineering structures. Today, "WT is applied as an integrated health monitoring
program in the oil, gas and chemical industries.
How it works (Pipeline Inspections)
Technician ,ichael -bernathy !right# performs a "uided Wave test. -n e.ample of pipeline
inspection using guided ave testing !"WT#. ,echanical stress ave is generated via transducer
array mounted around the pipe surface. The electrical signal is driven by the portable electronic
unit. -fter the collection, the result is displayed on the computer for further analysis.
- typical e.ample of the "WT data shoing both the -$scan type !bottom# and the /$scan type
!top# results. The green band indicates the position of the transducer array.
Unlike conventional ultrasonics, there are an infinite number of guided ave modes that for
a pipe geometry, and they can be generally grouped into three families, namely the torsional,
longitudinal and fle.ural modes. The acoustic properties of these ave modes are a function of
the pipe geometry, the material and the fre0uency. Predicting these properties of the ave modes
often relies on heavy mathematical modeling hich are typically presented in graphical plots
called 1ispersion curves.
&n "uided Wave Testing of pipelines, an array of lo fre0uency transducers is attached around
the circumference of the pipe to generate an a.ially symmetric ave that propagate along the
pipe in both the forard and backard directions of the transducer array. The Torsional ave
mode is most commonly used, although there is limited use of the longitudinal mode. The
e0uipment operates in a pulse$echo configuration here the array of transducers is used for both
the e.citation and detection of the signals.
-t location here there is a change of cross$section or a change in local stiffness of the pipe, an
echo is generated. 2ased on the arrival time of the echoes, and the predicted speed of the ave
mode at a particular fre0uency, the distance of a feature in relation to the position of the
transducer array can be accurately calculated. "WT uses a system of distance amplitude curves
!1-/# to correct for attenuation and amplitude drops hen estimating the cross$section change
!/+/# from a reflection at a certain distance. The 1-/s are usually calibrated against a series of
echoes ith knon signal amplitude such as eld echoes.
3nce the 1-/ levels are set, the signal amplitude correlates ell to the /+/ of a defect. "WT
does not measure the remaining all thickness directly, but it is possible to group the defect
severity in several categories. 3ne method of doing this is to e.ploit the mode conversion
phenomenon of the e.citation signal here some energy of the a.ially symmetric ave mode is
converted to the fle.ural modes at a pipe feature. The amount of mode conversion provides an
accurate estimate of the circumferential e.tent of the defect, and together ith the /+/,
operators could establish the severity category.
- typical result of "WT is displayed in an -$scan style ith the reflection amplitude against the
distance from the transducer array position. &n the past fe years, some advanced systems have
started to offer /$scan type results here the orientation of each feature can be easily interpreted.
This has shon to be e.tremely useful hen inspecting large si4e pipelines.