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Development of digital tools to enable remote ultrasonic inspection of fusion reactor in-vessel components

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The feasibility of a new approach for pipe inspection has been explored using digital twins to enhance guided wave inspection. Guided wave inspection is well established in the oil & gas industry to remotely screen long lengths of predominately straight pipeline for corrosion. However, the inspection of complex pipe geometries remains a challenge. Nuclear fusion facilities are one such potential application. Fusion reactors have a network of many kilometres of service pipes with complex features, including multiple pipe bends. Some of these pipes could be used for actively cooling components such as the first wall and divertor. Guided ultrasonic wave inspection has the significant advantage of offering 100% coverage of the pipe wall over tens of metres of pipe from a remote test location. This is a highly attractive feature, particularly in the nuclear industry where it is important that human presence in high-risk areas is prohibited due to high radiation doses and temperatures. In this work, finite element wave propagation models have been investigated as digital twins of fusion reactor components. The models have been used to calculate bespoke excitation signals that will allow for full volumetric inspections of these complex pipes to be carried out from a remote location. For the first time, a digital twin technique has been developed that is predicted to successfully correct the distortion in guided wave signals caused by multiple pipe bends. The technique is predicted to yield an order of magnitude improvement in detection capability over conventional guided wave inspection. The digital twin technique presented here therefore shows significant promise for the future inspection of nuclear fusion power plant pipes.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Full Matrix Ltd, 27 Harcombe Road, Cambridge CB1 9PD, UK 2: Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Culham Science Centre, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3DB, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2022

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