Turbine blades are complicated and delicate pieces of engineering. Each blade has cooling channels that allow air to flow through and exit the porous shell of the blade, maintaining a stable temperature for the assembly. Due to their nature, each turbine blade requires a series of rigorous testing procedures in order to verify their structural integrity. Visual inspection is simple matter but capturing the integral structure is no easy task.
This is where neutron imaging can play a vital role. Neutron imaging is the process of making an image with neutrons. The resulting image is based on the neutron attenuation properties of the imaged object. The resulting images have much in common with industrial X-ray images, but since the image is based on neutron attenuating properties instead of X-ray attenuation properties, some things easily visible with neutron imaging may be very challenging or impossible to see with X-ray imaging techniques
Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) have recently utilized neutron imaging to examine the cooling channels and other inner workings of Inconel 718 turbine blades. Watch the video.