A numerical model for the scattering of elastic waves from a non-axisymmetric defect in a pipe

Wenbo Duan, Ray Kirby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasonic guided waves are used in the non-destructive testing of pipelines. This involves launching an elastic wave along the wall of the pipe and then capturing the returning wave scattered by a defect. Numerical study of wave scattering is often computationally expensive because the shortest wavelength is often very small compared to the size of the pipe in the ultrasonic frequency range. Furthermore, the number of the scattered wave modes from a non-axisymmetric defect in the pipe can be large and separation of these modes is difficult in a conventional finite element method. Accordingly, this article presents a model suitable for studying elastic wave propagation in waveguides with an arbitrary cross-section in the time and frequency domain. A weighted residual formulation is used to deliver an efficient hybrid numerical formulation, which is applied to a long pipeline containing a defect of arbitrary shape. The problem is solved first in the frequency domain and then extended to the time domain using an inverse Fourier transform. To separate the scattered wave modes in the time domain, a technique is proposed whereby measurement locations are arranged axially along the pipe and a two dimensional Fourier transform is used to present data in the wavenumber-frequency domain. This enables the separation of highly dispersive modes and the recovery of modal amplitudes. This has the potential to reveal more information about the characteristics of a defect and so may help in distinguishing between different type of defects, such a cracks or regions of corrosion, typically found in pipelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalFinite Elements in Analysis and Design
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Hybrid finite element method
  • Non-axisymmetric defect
  • Separation of dispersive modes
  • Time domain scattered signals
  • Ultrasonic guided wave


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