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Dynamic railroad inspection using the laser-air hybrid ultrasonic technique

  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2006
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Parole Chiave: Imaging techniques; Laser applications; Railroads; Remote sensing; Ultrasonic imaging Dynamic railroad inspection; Laser-Air Hybrid Ultrasonic Technique; Shattered Rim Cracks; Vertical split head
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Laser-Air Hybrid Ultrasonic Technique (LAHUT) combines laser generation with air-coupled detection of ultrasound. The technique is non-contact and has the characteristic of operating from remote distances. Acoustic wave laser-generation apparatus can be metres away from the interrogated surface while air-coupled detection standoff can be on the order of several centimetres. The technique has the unique capability of interrogating structural materials in their true industrial environment. Dynamic tests are performed on parts with complex geometry, limited accessibility and curved surfaces. Also, dark and rough finish surfaces, which significantly reduce the efficiency of optical detection techniques, can be interrogated successfully. These characteristics make the LAHUT ideal for many industrial applications including the railroad industry. It was developed for railroad inspections targeting the most critical cracks in rails and wheels. State-of-the-art inspection techniques available to the railroad industry often miss Vertical Split Head (VSH) and Transverse Detail Defect (TDD), which lie in unfavourable positions and orientations in the rail head. No method exists to perform dynamic inspections of the rail base or any part of the railroad wheel. Laboratory experiments were performed for the detection of TDD and Proof Of Concept (POC)field tests were performed for VSH, rail base cracks, thermal fatigue cracks along the wheel flange and tread and subsurface Shattered Rim Cracks (SRC) along the wheel tread. The results were successful and highly repeatable. The technique lends itself for digital collection and automated processing of data making the LAHUT a very strong candidate,for next-generation railroad inspection technique.