PITA Fiscal Year 2015 Projects

Wireless (inductively-coupled) ultrasonics to identify erosion defects in frac iron components

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: David W. Greve, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PI(s): Irving J. Oppenheim, Civil and Environmental Engineering

“Frac iron” refers to piping components that are configured at the wellhead to inject and control the flow of fracture fluid. Frac iron operates at extreme levels of fluid pressure, and the fracture fluid rapidly erodes interior surfaces because of abrasive particles impacting the steel at high speed. Operation of frac iron presents serious potential hazards, which the industry limits by inspecting components at short time intervals. Detecting deep erosion losses in spatially complex frac iron components is a highest-priority need voiced by the industry. Our group has conducted full-scale laboratory studies on sample components and on equivalent laboratory specimens, yielding a clear relationship with the depth of the erosion volume. Moreover, our transducers have been developed and tested for novel inductively-coupled (wireless) operation, based upon a technology that our group developed earlier. Our laboratory tests show that the wireless configuration is as effective as a conventional cabled installation. The proposed work involves testing the wireless transducer configuration on a greater range of frac iron components, developing the signal processing methods for a more complete sample of erosion defects, and testing transducer configurations to be best suited for development into a commercial product.