Application of advanced non-destructive testing methods on bridge health assessment and analysis
PublisherUniversity of Greenwich
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Bridge structures have an important role in economic, social and environmental aspects of society life. Bridges are also subject to a natural process of deterioration of construction materials, as well as natural and environmental events such as flooding, freezing, thawing etc. Health monitoring and assessment of the structural integrity of bridges have been the focus of engineers and researchers for decades. Currently, the various aspects of bridge health are monitored separately. However, measuring these aspects independently does not give the overall health of the bridge and crucial indicators of structural damage can be neglected. Generally, bridge health assessments take the form of individual NDT (non-destructive techniques) detecting individual defects. However value can be added to these results by combining and comparing the findings of several different NDT surveys. By completing this, a more accurate assessment of bridge health is obtained. This increases confidence in the decision as to whether remedial action is necessary. In this thesis an integrated bridge health monitoring approach is proposed which applies several NDT specifically chosen for bridge health assessments, thus achieving this added value. This method can be used as a part of a comprehensive bridge monitoring strategy as an assessment tool to evaluate the bridges structural health. This approach enables the user of this approach to obtain a detailed structural report on the bridge with all the necessary information pertaining to its’ health, allowing for a fully educated decision to be made regarding whether remedial action is necessary. This research presents the results of the applications of such methods on case studies utilising Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), IBIS-S technology / system (deflection and vibration detection sensor system with interferometric capability) and Accelerometer sensors. It also evaluates the effectiveness of the adopted methods and technologies by comparing and validating the yielded results with conventional methods (modelling and visual inspection). The research presents and discusses processed data obtained by the above mentioned methods in detail and reports on challenges encountered in setting up and materialising the assessment process. This work also reports on Finite Element Modelling (FEM) of the main case study (Pentagon Road Bridge) using specialist software (SAP2000 and ANSYS) in order to simulate the perceived movement of the bridge under dynamic and static conditions. The analytical results output were compared with results obtained by the applications of the above non-destructive methods. Thus by using these techniques the main aim of this thesis is to develop an integrated model/approach for the assessment and monitoring of the structural integrity and overall functionality of bridges. All the above methods were validated using preliminary case studies (GPR), additional equipment (accelerometers for IBIS-S validation) and additional techniques and information (SAP 2000 and ANSYS were compared to one another and IBIS-S results). All of these techniques were applied on the Pentagon Road Bridge. This bridge was chosen as no information was available regarding its structural composition. Visual inspection showed the external defects of the structure: cracking, moisture ingress and concrete delamination was present in one of the spans of the bridge. The GPR surveys gave the position of the rebars and also signs of moisture ingress at depths of 20cm (confirmed using velocity analysis). IBIS-S gave results for the deflection of the structure. FEM was used to model the behaviour of the bridge assuming no defects. To achieve additional model accuracy the results of the rebar position were input in to the model and it was calibrated using IBIS-S data. The deflection results from the model were then compared to the actual deflection data to identify areas of deterioration. It was found that excessive deflection occurred on one of the spans. It was thus found that all NDT indicated that a particular span was an area of significant deterioration and remedial action should be completed on this section in the near future. Future prediction was also completed by running simulations in ANSYS for increasing crack lengths and dynamic loading. It was found that if there is no remedial action excessive beam bending moments will occur and eventual collapse. The results of this research demonstrated that GPR provided information on the extent of the internal structural defects of the bridge under study (moisture ingress and delamination) whilst IBIS-S technology and Accelerometer sensors permitted measurement of the magnitude of the vibration of the bridge under dynamic and static loading conditions. The results depicted similarities between the FEM results and the adopted non-destructive methods results in location and pattern. This work can potentially contribute towards a better understanding of the mechanical and physical behaviours of bridge structures and ultimately assess their life expectancy and functionality.