This paper describes the design of a new magnetic flux leakage (MFL) inspection tool that performs an inline inspection to detect and characterize both metal loss and mechanical damage defects. An inspection tool that couples mechanical damage assessment as part of a routine corrosion inspection is expected to have considerably better prospects for application in the pipeline industry than a tool that complicates existing procedures. The design is based on study results that show it is feasible to detect and assess mechanical damage by applying a low magnetic field level in addition to the high magnetic field employed by most inspection tools. Nearly all commercially available MFL tools use high magnetic fields to detect and size metal loss such as corrosion. A lower field than is commonly applied for detecting metal loss is appropriate for detecting mechanical damage, such as the metallurgical changes caused by impacts from excavation equipment. The lower field is needed to counter the saturation effect of the high magnetic field, which masks and diminishes important components of the signal associated with mechanical damage. Finite element modeling was used in the design effort and the results have shown that a single magnetizer with three poles is the most effective design. Furthermore, it was found that for the three-pole system the high magnetization pole must be in the center, which was an unexpected result. The three-pole design has mechanical advantages, including a magnetic null in the backing bar, which enables installation of a pivot point for articulation of the tool through bends and restrictions. This design was prototyped and tested at Battelle’s Pipeline Simulation Facility (West Jefferson, OH). The signals were nearly identical to results acquired with a single magnetizer reconfigured between tests to attain the appropriate high and low field levels.

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