On the scattering of torsional elastic waves from axisymmetric defects in coated pipes

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Journal Article
Journal of Sound and Vibration, 2012, 331 (17), pp. 3989 - 4004
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Long range ultrasonic testing is now a well established method for examining in-service degradation in pipelines. In order to protect pipelines from the surrounding environment it is common for viscoelastic coatings to be applied to the outer surface. These coatings are, however, known to impact on the ability of long range ultrasonic techniques to locate degradation, or defects, within a coated pipe. The coating dissipates sound energy travelling along the pipe, attenuating both the incident and reflected signals making responses from defects difficult to detect. This article aims to investigate the influence of a viscoelastic coating on the ability of long range ultrasonic testing to detect a defect in an axisymmetric pipe. The article focuses on understanding the behaviour of the fundamental torsional mode and quantifying the effect of bitumen coatings on reflection coefficients generated by axisymmetric defects. Reflection coefficients are measured experimentally for coated and uncoated pipes and compared to theoretical predictions generated using numerical mode matching and a hybrid finite element technique. Good agreement between prediction and measurement is observed for uncoated pipes, and it is shown that the theoretical methods presented here are fast and efficient making them suitable for studying long pipe runs. However, when studying coated pipes agreement between theory and prediction is observed to be poor for predictions based on those bulk acoustic properties currently reported in the literature for bitumen. Good agreement is observed only after conducting a parametric study to identify more appropriate values for the bulk acoustic properties. Furthermore, the reflection coefficients obtained for the fundamental torsional mode in a coated pipe show that significant sound attenuation is present over relatively short lengths of coating, thus quantifying those problems commonly encountered with the use of long range ultrasonic testing on coated pipes in the field. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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