Application of Acoustic, Strain, and Optical Sensors to NDE of Steel Highway Bridges

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Current bridge condition determination is based almost entirely on the use of visual inspection. This approach to bridge inspection provides data that is subjective and not traceable. Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) is a tool that in actuality is little used on bridges, but could eliminate much of the subjectivity of the input data for the bridge condition determination. A critical task for NDE on these structures is to detect and locate flaws that are growing which may eventually lead to serious impairment of the structures ability to perform its designed function. This problem area is the focus for a bridge NDE program currently being conducted by Northwestern's Infrastructure Technology Institute, (ITI). Under this program, all elements of the bridge inspection problem are being investigated by an interdisciplinary group consisting of members of Northwestern's faculty and BIRL staff. One of the major research areas of the program is the application of acoustic emission (AE) monitoring to steel bridges. AE monitoring is being combined with strain and optical sensors to develop a practical bridge inspection tool. This paper will present the latest results of field tests conducted recently on bridges in California and Wisconsin.

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  • 08/14/2017
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