SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1999

Acoustic Emission and Ultrasonic Testing for Mechanical Integrity


Today's owner/operator of process equipment is required to implement “good engineering tests” to ensure the mechanical reliability of his equipment. There are several ways this can be accomplished. One or more nondestructive testing (NDT) techniques, such as Acoustic Emission, Ultrasonics, Radiography, Magnetic Particle, Visual and others can be used. Most of these require the equipment be taken off line before the inspections can be performed. In some cases, when internal inspections are used, the cost of the inspection increases significantly. This paper describes an inspection program which uses Acoustic Emission (AE) as the primary technique for performing a global evaluation of the equipment's mechanical integrity. When the AE results indicate potential problems, a second NDT method, Ultrasonics (UT) shear wave analysis or thickness gauge, is utilized to determine the source mechanism, its characteristics and its boundaries. The two techniques complement each other quite well. This approach to equipment reliability offers several advantages: 1) the test, in many cases, can be performed on-line with product; 2) the equipment is evaluated under its normal operating conditions; 3) different damage mechanisms such as cracking, corrosion and embrittlement may be detected with a single test; 4) the cost savings can be substantial over other methods. In addition to describing the AE technique utilized, its advantages and disadvantages and an improved analysis method, there are examples of results produced on several recent tests, a 60 ft. diameter sphere, a 50 ft. diameter storage tank and a jacketed process vessel.

Author Information

Ternowchek, SJ
Physical Acoustics Corp., Princeton, NJ
Gandy, TJ
PAQS, Physical Acoustics Corp., Houston, TX
Calva, MV
PAQS, Physical Acoustics Corp., Princeton, NJ
Patterson, TS
PAQS, Physical Acoustics Corp., Princeton, NJ
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Developed by Committee: E07
Pages: 79–89
DOI: 10.1520/STP15782S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5402-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2498-1