Ultrasonic Guided Wave Rail Defect Detection

The UCSD/FRA non-contact guided-wave rail inspection prototype
Finite Element simulations of guided waves interacting with Transverse Defects
SAFE/COMSOL simulations of guided wave modes in rails
Detection of 10% Transverse Defect and 50% Defective Field Weld
Detection of 2” Horizontal Split Head and 1’ Vertical Split Head
Detection of Transverse Defects under shelling
The UCSD/FRA Rail Defect Farm
AREMA Committee 4 – Rail Meeting, April 2011

Funding:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Department of Transportation/Federal Railroad Administration
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway (in-kind)

Collaborators:

  • Prof. Piervincenzo Rizzo, University of Pittsburgh
  • Prof. Alessandro Marzani, University of Bologna
  • Volpe National Transportation Center
  • ENSCO, Inc.
  • Herzog Services, Inc.

Purpose:

To develop a rail defect detection system with the following three objectives: (a) better defect detection reliability (including internal head defects under shelling and vertical split heads), (b) higher inspection speed than achievable by current rail inspection systems, and (c) ability to characterize surface defects to optimize grinding operations and rail condition assessment.

Synopsis:

Part of this effort is in direct response to Safety Recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the disastrous train derailments at Superior, WI in 1992 and Oneida, NY in 2007 among others. In addition, safety statistics data from the US Federal Railroad Administration for the five years 2006-2011 indicate that the three leading causes of train accidents within the category “rail, joint bar and rail anchoring” are: the Transverse Fissure (1st leading cause of accidents), the Detail Fracture (2nd leading cause of accidents), and the Vertical Split Head (3rd leading cause of accidents). The project is targeting these three defects, in addition to the surface head checks.

UCSD is developing a system based on (a) non-contact ultrasonic probing, (b) ultrasonic guided waves, and (3) real-time statistical pattern recognition processing to improve both inspection speed and defect detection reliability in rails. The first generation prototype used a laser/air-coupled hybrid non-contact probing. The new generation prototype uses solely air-coupled transducers for both ultrasound generation and detection in the railhead. Laboratory and field tests of the air-coupled prototype are ongoing.

Selected publications:

Mariani, S., Nguyen, T., Phillips, R., Kijanka, P., Lanza di Scalea, F., Staszewski, W., Fateh, M. and Carr, G., “Non-Contact Air-Coupled Ultrasonic Guided Wave Inspection of Rails,” Structural Health Monitoring International Journal, Special Issue on Noncontact Measurement Technologies, 12(5-6), pp. 539-548, 2014.

Mariani, S., Nguyen, T., Lanza di Scalea, F. and Fateh, M., “High speed Non-contact Ultrasonic Guided Wave Inspections of Rails,” CD-ROM Proceedings of the 2014 ASME Joint Rail Conference, Colorado Springs, CO, pp. 1-6, April 2-4, 2014.

Mariani, S., Nguyen, T., Phillips, R., Kijanka, P, Lanza di Scalea, F. and Staszewski, W., “Non-Contact Ultrasonic Guided Wave Inspection Of Rails,” Structural Health Monitoring 2013 – A Roadmap to Intelligent Structures – Proceeding of the 9th Intl Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring, F-K. Chang, ed., Stanford University, pp. 2570-2577, Sept. 10-12, 2013. (BEST PAPER AWARD).

Nguyen, T, Mariani, S., Phillips, R., Kijianka, P., Lanza di Scalea, F., and Staszewski, WJ, “Noncontact Ultrasonic Guided Wave Inspections Of Rails,” Proceedings of the 2013 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE 2013), pp. 1-9, San Diego, CA, November 15-21, 2013.

Lanza di Scalea, F., Rizzo, P., Salamone, S., Bartoli, I., Al-Nazer, L., “Ultrasonic Tomography for Three-Dimensional Imaging of Internal Rail Flaws: Proof-of-principle Numerical Simulations,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, no. 2374, Washington DC, pp. 162-168, 2013.

Coccia, S., Phillips, R., Bartoli, I., Salamone, S., Rizzo, P., Lanza di Scalea, F., “On-line High-speed Rail Defect Detection – Part II,” Federal Railroad Administration Technical Report DOT/FRA/ORD-12/02, March 2012 (140 pages).

Coccia, S., Phillips, R., Bartoli, I., Salamone, S., Lanza di Scalea, F., Fateh, M., and Carr, G., “UCSD/FRA Non-contact Ultrasonic Guided Wave System for Rail Inspection: An Update,” Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record no. 2261, pp. 143-147, 2011.

Coccia, S., Bartoli, I., Marzani, A., Lanza di Scalea, F., Salamone, S. and Fateh, M., “Numerical and Experimental Study of Guided Waves for Detection of Rail Head Defects,” NDT&E International, 44(1), pp. 93-100, 2011.

Rizzo, P., Cammarata, M., Bartoli, I., Lanza di Scalea, F., Salamone, S., Coccia, S. and Phillips, R., “Ultrasonic Guided Wave-based Monitoring of Rail Head: Laboratory and Field Tests,” Advances in Civil Engineering – Special Issue on Structural Health Monitoring for Civil Structures: From the Lab to the Field, vol. 2010, Art. ID 291293, pp. 1-13, 2010 (invited).

Coccia, S., Bartoli, I., Salamone, S., Phillips, R., Lanza di Scalea, F., and Fateh, M., “Non-contact Ultrasonic Guided Wave Detection of Rail Defects,” Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record no. 2117, pp. 77-84, 2009.

Rizzo, P., Coccia, S., Bartoli, I., and Lanza di Scalea, F., “Non-Contact Rail Monitoring by Ultrasonic Guided Waves,” Chapter 145 of Encyclopedia of Structural Health Monitoring, C. Boller, F-K. Chang and Y. Fujino, eds., Johns Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, pp. 2397-2410, 2009.

Lanza di Scalea, F. “Ultrasonic Testing Applications in the Railroad Industry,” Chapter 15: Special Applications of Ultrasonic Testing, in Non-destructive Testing Handbook, 3rd edition, P.O. Moore, ed., American Society for Nondestructive Testing, pp. 535-552, 2007.

Lanza di Scalea, F., Rizzo, P., Coccia, S., Bartoli, I. and Fateh, M., “Laser/air-coupled Hybrid Non-contact System for Defect Detection in Rail Tracks: Status of FRA Prototype Development at UC San Diego,” Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record no. 1943, pp. 57-64, 2006.

Lanza di Scalea, F., Bartoli, I., Rizzo, P. and Fateh, M., “High-speed Defect Detection in Rails by Non-contact Guided Ultrasonic Testing,” Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record no. 1916, pp. 66-77, 2005.

Bartoli, I., Lanza di Scalea, F., Fateh, M. and Viola, E., “Modeling Guided Wave Propagation with Application to the Long-range Defect Detection in Railroad Tracks,” Nondestructive Testing & Evaluation (NDT & E) International, Vol. 38(5), pp. 325-334, 2005.

Lanza di Scalea, F., Rizzo, P., Coccia, S., Bartoli, I., Fateh, M., Viola, E. and Pascale, G., “Non-contact Ultrasonic Inspection of Rails and Signal Processing for Automatic Defect Detection and Classification,” Insight – Non-destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring, EURO Issue on NDT in the Rail Industry, Vol. 47(6), pp. 346-353, 2005.

Lanza di Scalea, F., Bartoli, I., Rizzo, P. and McNamara, J., “On-line High-speed Rail Defect Detection,” Technical Report DOT/FRA/ORD-04/16, 2004.

Lanza di Scalea, F. and McNamara, J., “Measuring High-frequency Waves Propagating in Railroad Tracks by Joint Time-Frequency Analysis,” Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol. 273(3), pp. 637-651, 2004.

McNamara, J., Lanza di Scalea, F. and Fateh, M. “Automatic Defect Classification in Long-range Ultrasonic Rail Inspection Using a Support Vector Machine-based Smart System,” Insight – Non-destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring, EURO Issue on NDT in the Rail Industry, Vol. 46(6), pp. 331-337, 2004.

McNamara, J. and Lanza di Scalea, F., “Air-coupled Ultrasonic Testing of Railroad Rails,” Materials Evaluation, Vol. 60(12), pp. 1431-1437, 2002.

Lanza di Scalea, F., “Advances in Non-contact Ultrasonic Inspection of Railroad Tracks,” Experimental Techniques, Vol. 24(5), pp. 23-26, 2000.