Tag Archives: non-destructive testing

CNA2016

Neutron Beams & Airplane Safety

According to Statistics Canada, there were 5.4 million take-offs and landings at Canada’s ninety-two airports in 2014.airplaneimage

Everything is made of materials, even people. And those materials can be examined through non-destructive testing (NDT). It is exactly what it sounds like, a method to test materials without breaking or destroying them.

“In the past, they’d make the part bigger. That works and it works if it’s on the ground, but with an airplane, when you have to move through the air you are sensitive to weight,” according to Michael Gharghouri, a research scientist at CNL with a PhD in materials engineering. “So you really want to design just what you need. You can only do it if you understand the material very well.”

When it comes to flying, NDT is an effective method that can pick up potential problems long before a plane takes off.

That’s where Nray Services comes in. This small company has a big job. For the last twenty years, its shop in Dundas, Ontario has been testing engine turbine blades for 95% of the entire aerospace industry using a neutron beam.

There are four phases to jet propulsion according to Rankin MacGillivray, President of Nray: Suck, squeeze, bang and blow.

Intake is the suck that draws air into the jet engine.

Then the air is squeezed by compression within the aircraft’s engine.

The bang occurs when the fuel and the spark are added.

The blow pushes air out of the engine at the rear, and pushes the aircraft forward.

It is these small rings of blades, approximately four or five inches high, inside the engine that Nray tests.

“The blades are operating at temperatures higher than their melting points,” according to MacGillivray.

To compensate for the high temperatures, the blades have hollow passages that allow cool air to circulate inside them. Within this ceramic core, any blockage greater than a ¼ millimeter could prevent cooling and cause the blade to break up in flight. So accuracy matters very much.

“Ceramic is a light material compared to the blade material. It’s fairly heavy and if you look at an x-ray for example it can penetrate but it can’t see behind it”, says MacGillivray. “Neutron rays can see light materials behind heavy materials.”

Neutron beams don’t just provide highly accurate measurements. They also provide an early warning system.

“Very early on when they are designing so they can get information up front to do an informed design.” Gharghouri goes onto say,”Then at the other end when problems crop up that are unexpected so that they can tell them the problem and where it is without actually destroying the part.”

Uncategorized

Looking Forward to a Non-Destructive Future

By Heather Kleb
Vice President
Canadian Nuclear Association

Heather Kleb at
Heather Kleb giving one of the keynote speeches at the 5th International CANDU ISI Workshop & NDT in Canada 2014 Conference.

On 2014 June 18, I had the opportunity to provide one of the keynote speeches at the 5th International CANDU ISI Workshop & NDT in Canada 2014 Conference.

Conference organizer, the Canadian Institute for NDE (CINDE), is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to promote awareness, and deliver education and certification testing in the area of non-destructive testing (NDT).

NDT, one of the least known but most widespread occupations, spans several industries, ranging from aerospace and automotive to petrochemical and nuclear.

NDT inspectors have played an essential role in assuring quality throughout the industrialized world since the early 1900s. They will continue to be relied upon during the implementation of major projects, such as the refurbishment of Ontario’s nuclear reactors. Refurbishing our reactors will involve opening them up right down to the core and inspecting, servicing, and replacing major components.

The NDT in Canada 2014 Conference provided the opportunity to share thoughts on these and other industry priorities. Over the past year, Canada’s nuclear leadership has re-examined its priorities in anticipation of major projects, such as refurbishment, decommissioning and waste management. As a result of this re-examination, a shared vision has evolved, which identifies both the opportunities and the challenges.

An NDT class in Hamilton, Ontario.
An NDT class in Hamilton, Ontario.

At the heart of the vision, is the desire to demonstrate excellent performance on major projects and to achieve supply chain success in supporting these projects. This of course cannot be achieved without a continuous supply of skilled technicians, engineers and scientists in NDT and other areas.

The vision is not without challenges, however. A challenge that resonated with everyone at the Conference was that the demand for skills is rising, but many of the skilled workers who built Ontario’s reactor fleet are retiring. This is a challenge with which NDT inspectors are already very familiar.

While there are many qualified inspectors, there simply aren’t enough of them to meet today’s demand. We are increasingly seeing industries with competing demands for inspectors jockey to hire from the same pool of skilled workers, pitting the aerospace industry against the petrochemical industry, and other industries.

The industry vision has the potential to bring significant opportunities to the workforce. A key element in that strategic vision will be the quantification of the demand for skilled workers.  This is the subject of study by Canadian Nuclear Association members, as well as key NDT stakeholders (the Quality Control Council of Canada, the NDT Management Association, the NDT Certification Body, and the CINDE).  There is a collective realization that taking the time to plan will result in immediate benefits, as well as pave the way for future demands.