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During the past 15 years, acoustic emission (AE) has been applied throughout the world to a variety of engineering structures in the aerospace, chemical, petroleum, nuclear, transportation, manufacturing, and utility industries. In addition, many reports and articles have described the merits of AE as a method for characterizing the metallurgical processes that occur during tests to measure the mechanical and physical properties of solid materials.
Documented applications of AE have been numerous and imaginative, and may generally be categorized as: (1) monitoring of components and systems during proof testing for the purposes of qualification or requalification; (2) on-line surveillance of systems and components; (3) detection and location of leaks; (4) in-process weld monitoring; (5) characterization or measurement of mechanical properties; and (6) monitoring of geologic structures. On-line surveillance may take several forms including continuous monitoring, intermittent monitoring, limited-zone monitoring, and acoustic signature analysis (loose parts, vibration, fluid flow, etc.).
This paper reviews a cross section of industrial applications to develop the theme that AE is an emerging nondestructive testing (NDT) method. The technology is exhibiting definite signs of increasing industrial maturity, and several related factors will be discussed to illustrate this point. Surveys of defects that have been found in the pressure boundaries of components manufactured in the United States, United Kingdom and West Germany will be reviewed since they add perspective to the current level of industrial interest in AE. Selected examples of typical AE applications are also described to provide an assessment of acoustic emission as a complementary NDT method, rather than as a recently discovered panacea.
acoustic emission, preservice (proof) testing, inservice (requalification) testing, on-line monitoring, leak detection and location, in-process weld monitoring, mechanical property testing and characterization, continuous and intermittent monitoring, limited-zone monitoring, pressure vessel reliability, industrial standards, international AE activities
Manager, Materials Engineering, Hanford Engineering Development Laboratory, Richland, Wash