Real-Time Non-Destructive Evaluation of Fatigue Crack Damage for Health Monitoring of Mechanical Structures

Project: Research project

Project Details


The goal of the proposed research is to develop real-time non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods for health monitoring and residual life prediction of mechanical structures and aging machinery. The specific objectives are: quantification & estimation of fatigue crack damage; and assessment of the time to onset of widespread fatigue damage.

The technical approach relies on fusion of heterogeneous information derived from physics-based analytical models and real-time sensor data. The analytical part of the research will be supported by laboratory experimentation on a special-purpose fatigue test apparatus that is equipped with multiple sensing devices - optical, electromagnetic, and ultrasonic. Fusion of multiple sensor data with a stochastic state-space model of fatigue crack growth will allow non-destructive evaluation of the current state of damage and prediction of the residual life in real time. This hardware-software combination constitutes a novel NDE system that can be executed on inexpensive platforms such as a Pentium processor and is ideally suited for adaptation to operating machinery. As such the NDE system will also serve as a real-time analytical sensor of fatigue crack damage for control applications.

The proposed NDE system will enhance safety and productivity in a wide range of industries and thereby reduce life cycle costs. Specifically, the NDE system will be applicable to real-time health monitoring and residual life prediction in active (e.g., turbines and pumps), semi-active (e.g., heat exchanger tubes), and passive (e.g., pressure vessels) structures that are subjected to both low-cycle and high-cycle fatigue damage. Furthermore, it will allow generation of early warnings to avert impending failures of critical plant components, which will reduce the probability of emergency shutdowns and catastrophic accidents.

Effective start/end date9/15/998/31/03


  • National Science Foundation: $200,000.00


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