Material Lifeing Using Nonlinear Ultrasound

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


This project is concerned with the development of ultrasonic techniques for the detection of fatigue and creep damage in materials. This development will allow the detection of damage at earlier stages in power plants and aero engines, resulting in the ability to operate these systems safely for much greater periods. The noncollinear interaction of ultrasound with material nonlinearity will be developed and employed due to its great potential for practical applications. The development and comparison of nonlinear inspection techniques, through modelling and experiment, will provide academic and industrial users with a clear, unambiguous description of the relative performance levels and usefulness of nonlinear ultrasonic inspection techniques, helping future users make the best decisions as to which approach to apply. Finally the testing of this approach on real world samples will confirm its practical applicability. The result will be an understanding of how nonlinear ultrasonic techniques can be used to detect previously undetectable damage in specimens and predict the remaining life in components.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of the proposed research fall into two main categories, industrial and local, both of which are crucial and must be considered. With the growing problem of ageing infrastructure in the power sector and the indus- trial need for damage detection in structures at an ever earlier stage, nonlinear ultrasonic techniques could have an enormous impact by allowing structures to operate longer and closer to their ultimate strength. This in turn could lead towards the ultimate goal of condition based maintenance. The development of the promising noncollinear technique and performance comparison of the different nonlinear approaches will give the industrial users the confidence to apply these approaches to practical situations, with the potential for large cost savings. In the event that the nonlinear techniques are less capable than ex- isting linear approaches, the proposal will clearly be beneficial for end-users in establishing this. The local impact is twofold, relating to both Dr Croxford and the employed researcher. As a first grant the proposal will help to ensure Dr Croxford establishes good links with industrialists and leave him well placed to play an active role in the development and deployment of techniques for monitoring material life in the future. Together with his work on guided wave SHM this will leave Dr Croxford well placed to develop his expertise in material lifeing and structural monitoring. The employed researcher will benefit through production of high quality publications and career development in a new potentially significant area. Perhaps more importantly, they will develop a set of skills that are particularly relevant to the aerospace and power sectors. This will have a great impact on their employability at the end of the proposal and in the long term will help to ensure excellent future links between academia and industry in key sectors.


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Blanloeuil P (2014) Numerical and experimental study of the nonlinear interaction between a shear wave and a frictional interface. in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

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Croxford A J (2013) Non-Collinear Inspection for the Detection of Damage Precursors in Proceedings of International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring 2013

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Liu S (2011) Effects of experimental variables on the nonlinear harmonic generation technique. in IEEE transactions on ultrasonics, ferroelectrics, and frequency control

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Potter JN (2014) Nonlinear ultrasonic phased array imaging. in Physical review letters

Description We have determined how a new type of measurements can be used to describe the current condition of material. This can be used to optimise measurements and predict material failure long before it happens, potentially extending life.
Exploitation Route I have recently submitted a fellowship application which would build on the ideas developed in this grant.
In addition ongoing discussions with industry are exploring how this might be employed by them.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

Description These have been used to develop a new approach to nonlinear material inspection and develop a broader understanding of the underlying mathematics. This has been used to engage industry and led to follow on funding
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Early career fellowship
Amount £800,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2015 
End 09/2020
Description Collaboration with researchers at university of Bordeaux 1 
Organisation University of Bordeaux
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution using our expertise in nonlinear acoustics we developed new experimental techniques for investigating this phenomena leading to a journal publication greatly aiding a phd student.
Collaborator Contribution They provided the student, lab facilities workshop time and numerical modelling expertise.
Impact Outputs from this collaboration are a journal paper and a commitment to continue working together.
Start Year 2011