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Research Papers

A Feasibility Study of Noncontact Ultrasonic Sensor for Nuclear Power Plant Inspection

[+] Author and Article Information
Akinori Tamura

Hitachi Europe Limited,
7th Floor, Capital House,
25 Chapel Street,
London NW1 5DH, UK
e-mail: akinori.tamura.mt@hitachi.com

Chenghuan Zhong

Inductosense Ltd.,
Engine Shed,
Station Approach,
Bristol BS1 6QH, UK
e-mail: bamboo@inductosense.com

Anthony J. Croxford

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Bristol,
Queen's Building,
University Walk,
Bristol BS8 1TR, UK
e-mail: a.j.croxford@bristol.ac.uk

Paul D. Wilcox

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Bristol,
Queen's Building,
University Walk,
Bristol BS8 1TR, UK
e-mail: p.wilcox@bristol.ac.uk

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received June 23, 2016; final manuscript received November 30, 2016; published online March 1, 2017. Assoc. Editor: John F. P. de Grosbois.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 3(2), 021003 (Mar 01, 2017) (9 pages) Paper No: NERS-16-1062; doi: 10.1115/1.4035466 History: Received June 23, 2016; Revised November 30, 2016

A pipe-wall thinning measurement is a key inspection to ensure the integrity of the piping system in nuclear power plants. To monitor the integrity of the piping system, a number of ultrasonic thickness measurements are manually performed during the outage of the nuclear power plant. Since most of the pipes are covered with an insulator, removing the insulator is necessary for the ultrasonic thickness measurement. Noncontact ultrasonic sensors enable ultrasonic thickness inspection without removing the insulator. This leads to reduction of the inspection time and reduced radiation exposure of the inspector. The inductively-coupled transducer system (ICTS) is a noncontact ultrasonic sensor system which uses electromagnetic induction between coils to drive an installed transducer. In this study, we investigated the applicability of an innovative ICTS developed at the University of Bristol to nuclear power plant inspection, particularly pipe-wall thinning inspection. The following experiments were performed using ICTS: thickness measurement performance, the effect of the coil separation, the effect of the insulator, the effect of different inspection materials, the radiation tolerance, and the measurement accuracy of wastage defects. These initial experimental results showed that the ICTS has the possibility to enable wall-thinning inspection in nuclear power plants without removing the insulator. Future work will address the issue of measuring wall-thinning in more complex pipework geometries and at elevated temperatures.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Concept of the inductively coupled transducer system

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Fig. 2

A schematic view of the experimental apparatus

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Fig. 3

The comparison of the dechirped signals in 20 mm thickness measurement: (a) conventional ultrasonic sensor and (b) ICTS (coil separation: 35 mm)

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Fig. 4

The thickness measurement performance of the ICTS

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Fig. 5

Effect of the coil separation on SNR

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Fig. 6

The comparison of the dechirped signals with/without the insulator: (a) without the insulator and (b) with the insulator of 50 mm thickness

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Fig. 7

SNRs with the different insulator thicknesses

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Fig. 8

The measured thickness with the different insulator thicknesses

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Fig. 9

The comparison of the dechirped signals in the thickness measurement of the stainless steel plate: (a) conventional ultrasonic sensor and (b) ICTS (coil separation: 35 mm)

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Fig. 10

The comparison of the dechirped signals with/without the irradiation

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Fig. 11

The comparison of the signal peaks with/without the irradiation

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Fig. 15

Simulation results showing the effect of the transducer diameter on wastage defect inspection

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Fig. 14

The displacement distribution of the simulation result at 5 × 10−6 s

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Fig. 13

The results of the wastage defect inspection by the ICTS

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Fig. 12

A schematic view of the wastage defect test

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