Skip to Main Content
A non-intrusive torsional vibration method for monitoring and tracking small changes in crack growth of reactor coolant pump shafts is presented in this paper. This method resolves and tracks characteristic changes in the natural torsional vibration frequencies that are associated with shaft crack propagation. The focus of this effort is to develop and apply the torsional vibration shaft cracking monitoring technique on a Westinghouse 93A reactor coolant pump. While this technique is being applied to reactor coolant pumps, it is generally applicable to many types of rotating equipment, including centrifugal charging pumps, condensate and feed water pumps, and may be used to detect and track changes in blade natural frequencies in gas or steam turbines. A laboratory scale rotor test bed was developed to investigate shaft cracking detection techniques under controlled conditions. The test bed provides a mechanism to evaluate sensing technologies and algorithm development. For accurate knowledge of the crack characteristics (crack depth and front), a sample shaft was seeded with a crack that was propagated using a three-point bending process. Following each crack growth step, the specimen was evaluated using ultrasonic inspection techniques for crack characterization. After inspection, the shaft was inserted in the rotor test bed for analysis and to track changes in shaft torsional vibration features. The torsional vibration measurement method has demonstrated the ability to reliably detect changes in the first natural shaft frequency in the range of 0.1 to 0.2 Hz. This technique shows the potential to enable online structural health diagnostics and ultimately the prevention of shaft or even possibly blade failure due to crack growth.