Development of a non-contact ndt system for stress wave sensing and excitation



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Non-destructive testing (NDT) plays an important role today in condition assessment of civil infrastructure. Among these NDT methods, the Impact-Echo (IE) method is widely used to determine the thickness of a plate structure and locate delaminations in concrete. The conventional IE test uses a contact impact source and a contact sensor, which limits the scanning speed. Recent studies show the feasibility of applying the air-coupled sensing technology to the IE test. With the contact requirement eliminated, a fully air-coupled NDT system can be realized to achieve rapid scanning on large scale structures. In this dissertation, the air-coupled IE test is first simulated using 2D finite element models. The numerical simulation results are validated by experimental measurements. It is shown that the airborne IE mode is a quasi-plane wave in air. A parabolic reflector is proposed to focus the airborne IE wave and amplify the air-coupled IE test signals. The focusing effect is validated by experimental results. By applying a parabolic reflector to the air-coupled sensor, it is found that large sensor lift-off height and source-receiver spacing can be used in the air-coupled IE test. The geometry of the parabolic reflector and source-receiver spacing are optimized using numerical simulations. A focused spark source is proposed as a non-contact source for the fully air-coupled test system. The spark source is first calibrated in an anechoic chamber. The feasibility of using the focused spark source for stress wave excitation is validated by experiments. A fully air-coupled testing system is realized by combining the air-coupled sensor and the air-coupled source. Experimental studies show that this system can measure surface wave and the IE mode. The fully air-coupled system is tested using a conventional IE test setup and a through transmission test setup. An acoustic muffler is introduced to suppress the acoustic noise from the spark source. Several advanced signal processing techniques to reduce the acoustic noises are also investigated. The air-coupled sensor has been adopted on a crawler NDT system for concrete inspection in a noisy field environment.