Numerical Modelling of Eddy Current Probes for CANDU® Fuel Channel Inspection
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Multi-frequency Eddy Current (EC) inspection with a transmit-receive probe (two horizontally offset coils) is used to monitor the Pressure Tube (PT) to Calandria Tube (CT) gap of CANDU® fuel channels. Accurate gap measurements are crucial to ensure fitness of service; however, variations in probe liftoff, PT electrical resistivity, and PT wall thickness can generate systematic measurement errors. Validated mathematical models of the EC probe are very useful for data interpretation, and may improve the gap measurement under inspection conditions where these parameters vary. As a first step, exact solutions for the electromagnetic response of a transmit-receive coil pair situated above two parallel plates separated by an air gap were developed. This model was validated against experimental data with flat-plate samples. Finite element method models revealed that this geometrical approximation could not accurately match experimental data with real tubes, so analytical solutions for the probe in a double-walled pipe (the CANDU® fuel channel geometry) were generated using the Second-Order Vector Potential (SOVP) formalism. All electromagnetic coupling coefficients arising from the probe, and the layered conductors were determined and substituted into Kirchhoff’s circuit equations for the calculation of the pickup coil signal. The flat-plate model was used as a basis for an Inverse Algorithm (IA) to simultaneously extract the relevant experimental parameters from EC data. The IA was validated over a large range of second layer plate resistivities (1.7 to 174 µΩ∙cm), plate wall thickness (~1 to 4.9 mm), probe liftoff (~2 mm to 8 mm), and plate-to plate gap (~0 mm to 13 mm). The IA achieved a relative error of less than 6% for the extracted FP resistivity and an accuracy of ±0.1 mm for the LO measurement. The IA was able to achieve a plate gap measurement with an accuracy of less than ±0.7 mm error over a ~2.4 mm to 7.5 mm probe liftoff and ±0.3 mm at nominal liftoff (2.42±0.05 mm), providing confidence in the general validity of the algorithm. This demonstrates the potential of using an analytical model to extract variable parameters that may affect the gap measurement accuracy.