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Ultrasonic Phased Array Technique in Rail for Crack-like Discontinuity Detection

Daily demand for safe passenger and material transportation has increased over the past century and is expected to expand at a higher rate, meaning a vital role for the rail industry and rail itself as one of the most important components. Ultrasonic testing is one nondestructive method that can guarantee rail fitness for service. Ultrasonic techniques, like other measurement approaches, may suffer from low probability of detection, due to lake of proficiency in applying the method, geometry complication, and physical limitations of the method. Due to its complicated cross-section geometry, rail is highly prone to mask discontinuities. Among different types of discontinuities, crack-like discontinuities are more important since they can make a detailed fracture of the rail and are more prone to be hidden inside the rail. The objective of this research is to address the dark side of crack-like discontinuity detection in rail head, rail web, and rail bottom via phased array ultrasonic testing. Eight classes of artificial crack-like discontinuities in UIC60 rail were manufactured and a detection capability of the method was evaluated. Effect rail aging was also studied to make the gathered data more applicable. Results have been clustered in three categories to clarify the locations that suffer from low probability of the detection. The category with the lowest level of the detection is discussed to reveal the reasons. Modification of current common approaches and outlook steps for the future research are also presented.

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