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Stud bolt corrosion inspection blind trials using ultrasonic techniques

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Visual inspection is currently the most commonly used method for monitoring the degradation of in-situ stud bolts in service, often supplemented with a sample removal of bolts for closer examination. An industry guideline document produced by the Energy Institute for bolted connections includes references to an operator's performance standard, stating that bolts with a 10% loss of major diameter shall be replaced with new bolting.

Phased array (PA) and other ultrasonic (UT) systems for bolt inspection are available but to date have not been widely used for corrosion inspection. This study investigates the performance of three different ultrasonic NDT methods for the evaluation of in-service bolt corrosion (PA, manual pulse-echo and a pitch-catch technique). Four separate blind trials were performed by different companies using probes on one end or, in one case, both ends of the bolts (pitch-catch).

It was found that the detectability of corrosion generally decreased significantly with the range from the probe and increased with the extent of the diameter loss. A 10% diameter loss could only be detected within about 50 mm of the inspected end of the bolt. However, all trials showed high false-call rates, similar to the overall flaw detection frequency, which raised concerns about the overall value of the inspections performed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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