Array imaging of inhomogeneous steel welds by measurement of weld material maps

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Mechanical Engineering


This proposal seeks funding for a three year research programme into the radical improvement of defect detection and sizing in inhomogeneous welds, such as austenitic steel welds. Welds of high temperature steels such as austenitic steels and Inconel have stiffness properties which are typically both anisotropic and inhomogeneous, so that ultrasonic wave rays tend to deviate and scatter. This results in inaccurate interpretation of defect sizes. Knowledge of weld maps which describe how the material properties vary throughout the weld, applied to wave propagation models, would allow array images to be corrected to compensate for the deviations of the rays. Work at Manchester University will investigate how weld maps can be constructed, using sectioning, experimental measurements, and materials modelling. Work at Imperial College will investigate the use of ultrasonic array measurements in order to measure such maps non-destructively. The findings will be combined to create a procedure to correct array images to enable accurate sizing of the defects. The work will be done in collaboration with two industrial companies who will both provide realistic weld specimens.The proposal is being submitted within the UK Research Centre in NDE (RCNDE) to the targeted research programme, the funding for which is earmarked by EPSRC for industrially driven research.
Description Welds in many safety-critical components, such as nuclear power plant, are made of materials that deviate the path of ultrasound rays that are being used to inspect them. This causes errors in ultrasonic images and consequent errors in sizing and locating defects. This project delivered a non-destructive methodology to measure stiffness maps of weld materials using array measurements, that can then be used to correct the images.
Exploitation Route The practical output is ready for deployment in industry, and this is happening. The research output could be used for further development of weld inspection techniques. A European project to do this has been awarded, with £4M funding across 12 partners, starting September 2017.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description At completion of the project a package for industrial deployment was prepared and delivered to the industrial partners. This package included software codes and instructions for their use. Users of this package should be able to adapt their own array imaging of inhomogeneous welds such that they can correct for the inhomogeneity in their imaging of defects in welds, and thus achieve much improved location and characterisation of defects. The package is currently being used by two partners, and the other partner is planning to use it. The delivered capabilities were also offered to any other interested parties by a well-attended Technology Readiness Level (TRL) workshop, run by the UK Research Centre for NDE. Subsequently, the capabilities arising from this work formed a key element for a 4 year £4M EU H2020 project, ADVISE, which started in September 2017.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description R-R ultrasound NDE 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Develop ultrasound NDE methods for use by R-R for inspections of nuclear power plant components
Collaborator Contribution Cash, steering meetings, deployment of outcomes within the company
Impact Technology transfer to partners, publications
Start Year 2010