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. Non-contact 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 non-contact 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.