Nuclear Engineering Division

Sensors and Instrumentation and Nondestructive Evaluation

Energy System Applications


Work for Others

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

As part of a DARPA-sponsored effort to develop a hypersonic ram jet engine, special carbon-carbon composite materials are being fabricated for this engine. Argonne’s specialized NDE capabilities, primarily X-ray computed tomography, were singled out for this effort. Argonne has been pioneering development efforts to use large-area X-ray detectors with industrial X-ray heads in a computed tomographic imaging mode. The large-area detectors, which can have 2000 by 2000 pixel arrays with 2-bytes per pixel, generate huge data sets. Many data sets are over 1-2 gigabytes in size. Handling these large data sets has demanded extensive computing capability. A new Beowolf cluster was assembled for this purpose. Data reconstruction times for the large data sets has gone from 48 hours to less than 45 minutes with this new computer arrangement.

Air Force

The Air Force work was directed towards developing NDE methodology coupled with proper materials models such that the remaining useful life of the ceramic matrix composites can be estimated. In this work, we studied guided plate waves using 150 kHz frequency transducers. A special test fixture allowed one transducer to be used to excite the plate wave, while two transducers served as detectors. The attenuation and acoustic wave speeds were used for the flexural mode. The material behavior model found to be of value was the shear-lag model. Use of this model, together with the guided plate wave analysis, proved an excellent predictor of life for SiC/SiC materials. Both monotonic loads and cyclic loads with tension-tension fatigue were studied.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

As a part of the investigation into the space shuttle Columbia accident, Argonne’s NDE efforts were recognized by NASA as vital. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board demanded that before the shuttle would fly again, appropriate NDE technology be in place to assure reliability of the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) materials that make up the leading edge of the shuttle wing. Argonne investigated several types of NDE technology in this effort: thermal imaging, noncontact ultrasonics, eddy current probing, and X-ray computed tomography. The figure below shows a photograph of one of the NASA shuttle leading edge components under study. Further details on the eddy current technology being developed for NDE are given later in this section.

Photograph of one of the leading edge components under study by NDEFigure 1: Photograph of one of the NASA shuttle leading edge components under study by NDE.
Click on photo to view a larger image.

Industrial Firms

We are developing various NDE technologies for the following industrial efforts:

  1. Thermal imaging and eddy current technology as part of Siemens-Westinghouse effort to develop solid oxide tubular fuel cells.
  2. X-ray computed tomography, air-coupled ultrasonics, and one-sided thermal imaging of oxide-oxide ceramic composites as part of the Siemens-Westinghouse effort to develop advanced low-emission gas turbines.
  3. An optical coherence tomography system for examining dense silicon nitride ceramic bearing balls as part of an effort funded by Saint-Gobain Industrial Ceramics and Plastics.

Block diagram for optical coherence tomography systemFigure 2: Block diagram for optical coherence tomography system.
Click on photo to view a larger image.

Energy System Applications
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Last Modified: Thu, April 21, 2016 7:20 AM



Related Facilities

  • NDE Facilities
    The Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) and Testing Facilities contain state-of-the-art NDE laboratories

Postdoc Jobs

  • Postdoctoral Projects
    View a list of NE Postdoctoral Projects related to Instrumentation and Nondestructive Evaluation

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National Security
Program Manager: Dave Chamberlain
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