Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virginia Tech engineers investigate energy independent monitoring system for bridges

13.02.2009
Virginia Tech's Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures (CIMSS) has teamed with Physical Acoustics Corporation (PAC), of Princeton Junction, N.J., to develop a suite of new technologies to provide a continuous, energy independent monitoring of the structural integrity of U.S. bridges.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funded the $14 million project, with Virginia Tech's share at about $2 million. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that more than 70,000 bridges in the United States are structurally deficient.

According to NIST, about 10,000 bridges are built, replaced, or rehabilitated annually, but that leaves a significant need for a system to provide continuously updated information on the structural health of the remaining bridges. The proposed system would provide the data needed to better prioritize repair operations and to notify bridge owners of extreme events such as collisions.

The system proposed by PAC and Virginia Tech, along with two additional research partners, the University of South Carolina and the University of Miami, will include an innovative research method for "harvesting" -- or securing -- its own power from motions and vibrations in the bridge using piezoelectric materials, thus making it "energy independent," said Dan Inman (http://www.me.vt.edu/people/faculty/inman.html), the director of CIMSS (http://www.cimss.vt.edu/) and the George Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering (http://www.eng.vt.edu/main/index.php).

Piezoelectric materials are able to generate an electric potential when a mechanical stress in the form of vibration caused by traffic is applied.

According to Inman, the proposed instrument package will use acoustic emission sensing. When a crack or other flaw appears in a bridge, it emits acoustic waves. The sensors will detect these waves and monitor any changes.

The system is passive and non-destructive. The research targets both steel and concrete bridges.

The sensor data, transmitted through a wireless system, will feed computer models of the structure and a data interpretation system that will make assessments and predictions of the bridge's structural integrity on the basis of continuously updated information. Built-in self-check capabilities will eliminate the need for routine sensor maintenance.

The energy harvesting feature will eliminate the need for either a hard-wired power source for the hundreds of sensor nodes required or a reliance on batteries that would have to be regularly replaced. This aspect greatly reduces both installation and maintenance costs for the monitoring system, Inman added.

This NIST award is among the first under the agency's new Technology Innovation Program, created to support innovative, high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need. NIST considers the high-risk elements of the proposal to include the development of the energy harvesting system, the sensors themselves, and the data interpretation, damage assessment, and health prognosis software.

Inman said that as "the inventory of bridges continues to age, routine inspection practices will not be sufficient for bridge owners to make informed decisions for safety and maintenance prioritization."

Continuous monitoring of the integrity of the bridge's structure is now needed. "The only feasible method is to allow engineers to observe various areas of concern such as a retrofit or a previous repair from a remote location. The monitoring can also be used as a preventative measure against terrorism or vandalism," Inman added.

Inman, who along with his students created a process allowing the use of smart materials to suppress and harvest vibrations, as well as the inventor of the self-sensing actuation principle for piezoceramic-based devices, explained this work will result in the use of a remote/online, self-powered global monitoring package, allowing for an early warning system. They say they plan to call it the Bridge Prognostic System, and it will be integrated into existing bridge management software to provide sound data for decision-making.

Multiple types of sensors will provide the information. "The primary advantage of the active sensing approach is that large areas can be scanned efficiently and cracks can be imaged remotely even though they are not actively growing," Inman said.

"It is clear from recent bridge collapses and the often reactive nature of bridge maintenance, that the major societal challenge of providing a safe and low-cost infrastructure system is not currently being met," Inman added.

Lynn A. Nystrom | Virginia Tech
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Construction Impact Guide
18.05.2018 | Hochschule RheinMain

nachricht New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities
24.01.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>