Augmented Reality System Provides Insights into Component Inspections

Posted to EPRI in the Generation Professionals Group
image credit: EPRI
Bruce Greer's picture
Senior Technical Leader - Nuclear NDE Center, EPRI

Perform, manage and support multiple research and development projects in Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE), Boiling Water Reactor Vessel and Internals (BWRVIP), and Technology Innovation (TI)....

  • Member since 2022
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  • Nov 16, 2022

Non-destructive evaluation (NDE) is a valuable tool for evaluating the structural health of power plant structures, systems, and components. It allows information to be gathered without disturbing or causing damage to the component being inspected. There are limitations with current NDE examination techniques. For example, they may only provide the examination data and not a reference to the location of the data and do not typically show the location of internals flaws relative to the internal features of a component like welds. This makes understanding the nature and location of a flaw dependent on the skills of the examiner.

Having the ability to use NDE to accurately assess a component’s internal integrity in real-time can help avoid:

  • Unnecessary, expensive repairs
  • Costly, time-consuming part replacement
  • Down-time while repairs or replacement is ongoing

EPRI has completed a bench-scale demonstration of a technically viable, real-time, augmented reality-based non-destructive evaluation (NDE) system for inspection of power plant parts, revealing critical information as the inspection is taking place. The system uses an ultrasonic probe to perform examinations of a component which provides information on the type, location, and extent of any flaws. It then takes that information and sends it to an augmented reality (AR) display worn by the user which overlays the data over the component. This provides the user with the ability to see the internal geometry of the component and the location of any flaws in real-time.

Traditional techniques would require the user to interpret the data through a two-dimensional screen, but this system allows the user to see it in 3D at its actual location on the component through the head-mounted AR display. It’s like seeing a real-time color video “x-ray” of a component showing flaws’ locations near internal features of the component.

This demonstration project opens a new dimension and capability for monitoring the structural health of safety-significant structures, systems, and components by giving examiners the ability to easily visualize the results of NDE examinations. So far, the system has been used in the lab and for demonstration. The next step will require the system to be field tested to prove ruggedness and ease of use in the real world. If successful, this technology will help power plant operators to maintain safe plant operation while minimizing maintenance and repair costs.

A video of the system in operation can be seen here. There’s also a report detailing EPRI’s research available here.


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Bruce Greer's picture
Thank Bruce for the Post!
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