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Acoustic Emission of Large PRSEUS Structures



In the role of structural health monitoring (SHM), Acoustic Emission (AE) analysis is being investigated as an effective method for tracking damage development in large composite structures under load. Structures made using Pultruded Rod Stitched Efficient Unitized Structure (PRSEUS) for damage tolerant, light, and economical airframe construction are being pursued by The Boeing Company and NASA under the Environmentally Responsible Aircraft initiative (ERA). The failure tests of two PRSEUS substructures based on the Boeing Hybrid Wing Body fuselage concept were conducted during third quarter 2011 and second quarter 2015. One fundamental concern of these tests was determining the effectiveness of the stitched integral stiffeners to inhibit damage progression. By design, severe degradation of load carrying capability should not occur prior to Design Ultimate Load (DUL). While minor damage prior to DUL was anticipated, the integral stitching should not fail since this would allow a stiffener-skin delamination to progress rapidly and alter the transfer of load into the stiffeners. In addition, the stiffeners should not fracture because they are fundamental to structural integrity. Getting the best information from each AE sensor is a primary consideration because a sparse network of sensors is implemented. Sensitivity to stiffener-contiguous degradation is supported by sensors near the stiffeners, which increases the coverage per sensor via AE waveguide actions. Some sensors are located near potentially critical areas or “critical zones†as identified by numerical analyses. The approach is compared with the damage progression monitored by other techniques (e.g. ultrasonic C-scan).

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