Experimental characterization of creep damage using the nonlinearity ultrasonic technique
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Welded steel pipes are an essential structural part of any power plant. Longer lifetimes and higher pressures in the pipes cause an increased probability of failure due to creep damage. To maintain safe operation, nondestructive evaluation techniques to detect creep damage are needed. Nonlinear acoustic techniques employing longitudinal waves have been proven to be sensitive to creep damage. The objective of this research is to develop a robust experimental procedure to reliably measure the acoustic nonlinearity parameter using longitudinal waves, and then to validate the procedure on samples of different materials and sizes. Finally the technique is applied to characterize creep damage levels around the weld of a welded steel pipe. While the experimental technique presented can only measure the relative nonlinearity, it is accurate enough to detect changes in nonlinearity due to creep damage. Measurements show an increase in nonlinearity in the heat affected zone (HAZ). Experiments after annealing the creep damaged specimen show a decrease in nonlinearity in accordance with a decrease in dislocation density. Measurements on an undamaged welded A36 steel component suggest that the heat itself is not responsible for the increase in nonlinearity.