Use of Flexible Phased Array Technology for Corrosion Inspection on Pipe Elbows

Ultrasonic inspection of pipe elbows poses many challenges, the most significant of which are the various diameters that need to be covered and the fact that the surface shape changes from concave on the intrados to convex on the extrados. Owing to the complexity of this application, UT inspectors have opted to use small-footprint conventional ultrasonic probes to perform spot-check measurements. This process is slow and the data output tends to be operator dependent. Furthermore, this method does not provide imaging, which limits the practicality of the results. Ultrasonic phased array enables large areas to be rapidly scanned at a high resolution, but standard linear phased array probes are rigid and cannot conform to changes in component geometry. Olympus has developed a solution to this problem—a new flexible ultrasonic phased array probe and dedicated scanner for high-resolution thickness mapping of pipe elbows. This innovative probe and scanner solution can provide a complete image of the entire pipe elbow, making it easier to diagnose the damage mechanism and determine the repair and/or maintenance strategy. These capabilities make it a useful tool not only in evaluating remaining operational life but also in helping prolong the life of pipes in plants. This paper illustrates how this new advanced ultrasonic phased array technology can contribute to pipe elbow inspection applications during maintenance and highlights two real cases.

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