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Proceedings Paper

Application of laser-based profilometry to tubing in power generating utilities
Author(s): James L. Doyle
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Paper Abstract

Over the past several years lasers have been employed in an ever widening number of applications in an incredibly diverse set of markets. In the area of nondestructive testing, however, laser-based systems have only recently made inroads into the commercial markets. About ten years ago QUEST Integrated, Inc., began working with the U.S. Navy to adapt the principal of laser triangulation to solve a serious maintenance related problem. The internal surfaces of marine boiler tubes were experiencing pitting and corrosion which had resulted in catastrophic shipboard failures. At that time, conventional visual methods only allowed operators to inspect the first eighteen inches of the tube using a rigid borescope. If any pits were located, a mechanical stylus mechanism was used to obtain an approximate depth measurement of the pit. The condition of the balance of the tube was then extrapolated based on this extremely limited amount of information. Often the worst pitting was found in the bends of the tube, which could not be inspected by the visual method. Finally, a catastrophic boiler failure on an aircraft carrier resulted in the initiation of a search by the U.S. Navy for a better solution. Quest was contracted to develop an articulated probe which could negotiate the full length of a boiler tube with multiple bends, and generate a complete digital map of the inside surface. A key requirement of this probe would be rapid and quantitative measurement of internal features such as ID pits and corrosion. In 1987 QUEST delivered the first laser- optic tube inspection system to the U.S. Navy for use in marine boiler tubes. The Laser Optic Tube Inspection System (LOTISTM) was immediately put to use and paid for itself many times over in reduced maintenance costs. Over the next six years several generations of LOTIS were developed for the U.S. Navy, each one providing more capabilities, improved inspection speeds, and more user friendly operator interface. Today, LOTIS is used for routine inspections on marine boiler tubes by the U.S. Navy, with units located in several parts of the United States and overseas. In 1993 QUEST began exploring the possibility of extending this technology to the inspection of commercial tubes used in power generation and chemical processing. The following is an overview of the use of laser profilometry for nondestructive testing.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 May 1995
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 2454, Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Utilities, (12 May 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.209380
Show Author Affiliations
James L. Doyle, Quest Integrated, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2454:
Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Utilities
Walter G. Reuter, Editor(s)

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