Inspecting U-tube bundles using acoustic pulse reflectometry

Noam Amir, Oded Barzelay, Amir Yefet, Tal Pechter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Acoustic Pulse Reflectometry (APR) has recently been gaining acceptance for a variety of tube inspection applications, as a viable alternative to more entrenched technologies such as eddy current. In this paper we present a case study demonstrating how APR can be used successfully for inspecting U-tube bundles. This type of heat exchanger poses a great challenge to technologies which require traversal with a probe, due to the presence of tight bends in me tubes. These are usually not traversable by probes. APR, on the other hand, uses an acoustic pulse as a "virtual probe", with me ability to navigate bends, elbows, fittings etc. with no difficulty. In this paper we show how the various typical faults are revealed in the acoustic measurements and demonstrate how the analysis software recognizes these faults and generates the report. In one case presented here we inspected 62 heat exchangers used to heat natural gas, containing 39 U-tubes each, totaling 2379 tubes. Each tube had an internal diameter of 11mm, wall thickness of 2.5mm, and a length of approximately 6 meters, though there was some variability in length due to different lengths of the U bends. An added difficulty in inspecting these tubes was that the tube sheet was about 80 centimeters in distance from me inspection port-hole. The average inspection time in the field was 25 seconds per tube. All measurements were logged to computer files, and automated fault detection software generated a full report showing the condition of the tubes, indicating degradations in wall thickness, full and partial blockages, and holes. In the second case study we examine the variability in u-tubes in a single bundle and discuss the effect this has on the results.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ASME Power Conference 2009
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event2009 ASME Power Conference - Albuquerque, NM, United States
Duration: 21 Jul 200923 Jul 2009

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Power Division (Publication) PWR


Conference2009 ASME Power Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAlbuquerque, NM


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