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Mid-America Transportation Center

Nondestructive Evaluation Tools to Improve the Inspection, Fabrication and Repair of Bridges

Final Report
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  • Principal Investigator: Glenn Washer ( 573-884-0320)
  • Project Status
  • Start Date: 7/1/2013
  • End Date: 12/31/2014
  • About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    This project is developing nondestructive evaluation technologies for the condition assessment of bridges. Ultrasonic technologies for detecting and characterizing cracks and other defects in steel bridge members are being developed, and the results of the research will have an impact on existing codes and standards. Ultrasonic stress measurement technology is also being developed to provide a new, innovative technology to meet a key need for bridge condition assessment. The technology being developed will provide in-situ stress measurements to provide key data to structural engineers assessing the safety of gusset plates and other bridge members.
    Research Objective
    The objective of the research are as follows: 1. Test, develop, and improve existing procedures for ultrasonic detection and characterization of cracks and other defects in steel bridge members; 2. Develop procedure for the application of phased array technologies for ultrasonic detection and characterization of cracks and other defects in steel bridge members; 3. Develop innovative ultrasonic technologies for measuring in-situ stresses in gusset plates and other steel bridge members.
    Potential Benefits
    The primary benefit of the research is the improved safety and serviceability of highway bridges. These technologies will improve engineers capabilities for performing effective and accurate condition assessments for highway bridges. These technologies will improve the ability to detect and characterize critical defects in a bridge to improve safety and identify critical repair needs. These technologies contribute to the Centers goals of maintaining good repair and safety.
    The goal of this research program in Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) is to improve the safety and reliability of bridges. The results of this research will enhance the safety of the transportation infrastructure by providing better tools for the safety condition assessment of bridges during fabrication, inspection, and repair. The research will also enhance the state of good repair by developing technologies for detecting deterioration in its embryonic stages, when maintenance and preservation strategies can be implemented to ensure the state of good repair. The benefit is better, safer, and longer-lasting steel and concrete bridges and related structures. Two promising areas of research will be carried forward during this research:1) Develop Phase Array Ultrasonic Testing for Steel Fabrication. Improve the quality control process for steel fabrication to improve the reliability, safety, and quality of welded constructions.2) Ultrasonic Measurement of In-Situ Stress Levels in Gusset Plates. Measure the actual in-situ stress levels in the gusset plates to ensure structural safety. This experimental research will explore the application of these technologies for practical applications for bridge condition assessment. The research will also make a strong contribution to the education and training of students in the important arena of inspection and condition assessment of the civil infrastructure, where current curriculum is lacking. These technologies can make significant improvements in the ability of engineers and inspectors to assess the condition of bridges to improve highway safety and ensure the state of good repair.
    Total Project Cost
    $ $72,500