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Scientists Find New Method to Test Bridges’ Health

Scientists Find New Method to Test Bridges’ Health

Bridges, health, Brigham Young University, water, Brian Mazzeo, Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation International, impact-echo testing

Listen to bridges “Sing in the Rain”

It might become the most efficient and cost-effective method to check if a bridge needs repairing: Just spray the bridge’s deck with water and record the sound. That way, according to researchers at the Brigham Young University, in the US, may be possible to detect delamination (separation of structural layers) in bridges.

“There is a difference between water hitting intact structures and water hitting flawed structures,” says Brian Mazzeo, co-author of the study published in Elsevier’s journal Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation International. “We can detect things you can’t see with a visual inspection; things happening within the bridge itself.”

The impact-echo testing, based on impact-generated stress on a structure, is frequently used to check bridges and other constructions; but it is usually made with heavy materials, like hammers and chains, which involve costly and time-consuming procedures. With water, however, it could take just a few minutes to check the construction.

“We would love to be able to drive over a bridge at 25 or 30 mph, spray it with water while we’re driving and be able to detect all the structural flaws on the bridge,” says Mazzeo. “We think there is a huge opportunity, but we need to keep improving on the physics.”

Source: Brigham Young University

Photo credit: Steve Parker/Flickr

Mazzeo, B., Patil, A., & Guthrie, W. (2012). Acoustic impact-echo investigation of concrete delaminations using liquid droplet excitation NDT & E International, 51, 41-44 DOI: 10.1016/j.ndteint.2012.05.007

Jaime Menchén
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