Time Reversal: Infrastructure Health Monitoring

Over the last decade, the deterioration of the United State’s infrastructure has become a subject of increasing concern. Pipeline networks are particularly difficult to maintain. The United States has approximately 305,000 miles of interstate and intrastate pipelines dedicated to the transmission of natural gas to local distribution plants.

Ultrasonic guided wave technology has become an important tool for evaluating the integrity of many civil structures. Guided waves can travel long distances in many materials and propagate through the entire thickness of the object under test. These properties make them appealing for nondestructive inspection. Many ultrasonic pipeline inspection systems use large rings of transducers to excite guided waves and listen for echoes produced by cracks, corrosion, or other damage.

In a structural health monitoring environment, transducers are permanently attached to the structure. These systems can be used to monitoring large networks of pipelines in real-time. Processing techniques can also take advantage of the transducers’ spatial diversity to improve detection performance, while reducing power requirements. We have demonstrated a monitoring technique using Time Reversal Change Focusing (TRCF). In time reversal focusing, a response between some source and an array receiver is obtained. A time-reversed version of the response is then propagated backward through the medium from the same array. These waves propagate as if traveling backward in time and focus spatially and temporal back at an original source. Time reversal focusing has been extensively investigated for pulse-echo ultrasonic inspection. In TRCF, changes in medium caused by damage can be illuminated using time reversal focusing.

This project is supported by a grant of DOE through NETL. CMU is a subcontractor to Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), Johnstown, PA.

Publications on infrastructure health monitoring: Ultrasound time reversal pipeline monitoring

Main references:

  • Nicholas O’Donoughue, Joel Harley, José M. F. Moura, Yuanwei Jin, “Detection of Structural Defects in Pipes using Time Reversal of Guided Waves,” in 43rd IEEE Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers, Pacific Grove, CA, Nov. 2009.
  • Joel Harley, Nicholas O’Donoughue, José M. F. Moura, Yuanwei Jin. “Time reversal focusing for pipeline structural health monitoring,” 158th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, San Antonio, TX, Oct. 2009.
  • Joel Harley, Nicholas O’Donoughue, Joseph States, Y. Ying, James Garrett, Yuanwei Jin, José M. F. Moura, Irving Oppenheim, Lúcio Soibelman, “Focusing of Ultrasonic Waves in Cylindrical Shells using Time-Reversal,” in 7th International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring, Stanford Univ., CA, Sept. 2009.

Lab Members

  1. Nicholas O’Donoughue
  2. Joel Harley
  3. Yujie Ying 


Industry collaboration

Faculty collaborations in this project

Also, at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

  • Yuanwei Jin, (Assistant Professor at University of Maryland Eastern Shore)