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Ultrasonic Testing of Welds for Alternative Energy

by Last updated Aug 15, 2023 | Published on Aug 20, 2019Weld Testing

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Quality control is a top priority for every component we manufacture and send out, proven by our 99.7% quality rating. Ultrasonic testing of welds for the alternative energy industry is not the most-common form of non-destructive testing (NDT) we perform, but it’s a highly reliable one. The depth of penetration for detecting flaws and/or measuring surface scratches in metals surpasses other NDT processes.

Ultrasonic testing of welds

Ultrasonic waves operate at a higher frequency than sound waves.  Sound waves that humans hear have frequencies of 20 to 20,000 hertz. Ultrasound waves have frequencies higher than 20,000 hertz and are undetected by the human ear. We provide ultrasonic testing of welds on component weldments for three-pass heat exchanger hydrogen fuel cells used in alternative energy machinery and vehicles.

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The skill and training for ultrasonic testing of welds is more extensive than other NDT methods, and is overseen by our quality control department. Ultrasonic beams are safe for testers since they do not contain electromagnetic radiation. Ultrasonic testing locates the exact position of a weld discontinuity more accurately than even radiographic testing.

We establish a weld’s internal integrity with ultrasonic testing of welds with the following process:

  • An ultrasonic gauge transmits a beam of high-frequency ultrasonic energy into the component or material.
  • The ultrasonic beam penetrates the entirety of the component or material.
  • Then, two audible signals result from the gauge, alerting the tester.
  • If the ultrasonic beam intercepts a discontinuity in the component, it reflects the location back to its point of origin and a third audible signal sounds
  • This indicates there is a deformity beyond acceptable parameters. From that signal, we know the exact location and size of the deformity.

Acceptable flaws are based on customer’s specifications or our expert’s recommendations. For example, we reject stainless steel tubing with scratches greater than 10% of the metal’s wall thickness. Thickness measurement and flaw detection are not the only benefits to utilizing ultrasonic NDT.

Other benefits include:

  • Ultrasonic testing  of welds finds subsurface discontinuities
  • It is used to evaluate material characterization
  • The testing method assesses corrosion levels
  • It’s highly accurate
  • Ultrasonic testing of welds offers instant results

“Ultrasonic testing of welds detects tiny flaws without having a negative impact on the system,” said Dave Scott, who heads up quality control for Axenics’ metals division. “It is a very important test, as most components we ship will have potentially dangerous gases traveling through them. It’s very important to us and the customer that the stainless steel is flawless with zero leak points.”

Some customers request destructive testing of a sample after ultrasonic testing of welds takes place. For your destructive weldment or component tests, such as x-ray radiographic testing, we use trusted third-party testing facilities or laboratories. Optimal performance of your hydrogen energy solutions is our primary goal at Axenics. We can also assist with the development of your hydrogen production systems.

Ultrasonic weld testing is not common for us, but it’s a highly reliable procedure. Ultrasonic testing locates the exact position of a weld discontinuity more accurately than even radiographic testing (which uses x-rays to detect weld flaws).

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