High temperature thickness monitoring using ultrasonic waves
Pezant, Joannes Charles
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The time required for inspection and maintenance of piping systems and vessels needs to be reduced to both minimize down time and decrease operational costs of petrochemical plants. Current ultrasonic inspection systems are not suited for on-line monitoring, with the main issues being the resistance of transducers and their coupling to high temperatures and the removal of insulation to access structures. The use of welded cylindrical rods is thus proposed, but measurements are threatened by "trailing echo" generation in waveguides. The introduction of a taper angle is investigated to attenuate these undesired echoes. While clean signals can always be obtained by increasing the taper angle in long rods, that is not always the case for short rods, which are considered here. In addition, temperature variations have a non-negligible impact on the arrival time of the backwall echo when performing measurements with a waveguide, and on-line compensation is essential. Since the interface echo between the rod and the pipe wall may be suppressed after the welding operation, a notch is machined at the end of the rod to create a reflected echo, which can be used for on-line compensation. Finally, the implementation of waveguides is considered for both pulse-echo and pitch-catch modes. In the pitch-catch mode, the backwall echo and the notch echo are received by different transducers and signals of interst are both first arrivals. As a result, trailing echoes do not impede measurements and their attenuation becomes unnecessary. In contrast, pulse-echo measurements are sensitive to trailing echoes and the waveguide's design plays an essential role in the feasibility of measurements. However, the environment also imposes a set of constraints on waveguide dimensions that complicates the implementation of pulse-echo measurements. Being more flexible, the pitch-catch configuration is chosen for final implementation. Experiments are performed to verify the concept feasibility, and the accuracy of measurements with thickness and temperature changes is also confirmed.