Leave-in-Place High Temperature Ultrasonic Transducers

Ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation (UNDE) can provide real time flaw detection in metal piping. The nuclear power industry has expressed great interest in using this technology, but a number of issues prevented its use. Traditional ferroelectrics degrade quickly at the high temperatures present in a nuclear power plant. Our research has focused on Bismuth Titanate (BiT), a high Curie temperature ferroelectric that can withstand these higher temperatures. Recently, a spray-on method has been developed using a powder loaded Sol to deposit a BiT-Sol composite onto the surface of various substrates, such that it can be used as an ultrasonic transducer. However, this caused issues with corrosion on carbon steel (a material frequently found in nuclear power plants), so we have replaced the Sol with a potato starch binder to form lead free high temperature tolerant thick film transducers, and it does not encounter the corrosion problems that occurred when using the BiT-Sol composite. Results have been obtained with arrays of transducers on Carbon steel elbows and valve bodies in both pulse-echo and acoustic emission experiments. Long term high temperature results have been obtained to 350°C and recent test through ATR NSUF at MITR have shown tolerance to fast neutron flux of up to 1021 n/sq. cm.


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