Scientists pioneer new concrete corrosion sensors

January 25, 2012

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have made a major breakthrough in developing sensors which dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete.

The sensors, which are more resilient and much longer lasting than traditional corrosion sensors, will make monitoring the safety of structures such as bridges and vital coastal defences much more effective.

The research, which was carried out over a four-year period, was in conjunction with researchers at City University London, and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Su Taylor from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen's University said: "Because the sensors can withstand long-term placement within , unlike any equivalent sensors currently available, they can constantly monitor conditions, enabling a warning to be sent when conditions for corrosion threshold have been crossed. Thanks to an internet connection, the notification can be sent in the form of an email or text to the structure's maintenance team.

"There is a trio of novel, robust probes at the heart of the team's work: one that monitors temperature, one for humidity while the other senses chloride and . Changes in these factors indicate the onset of the potentially destructive corrosion. Within the probes are advanced specifically designed and built for this project. These have been patented for potential commercial exploitation."

Tong Sun, Professor of Sensor Engineering at City and Principal Investigator on the project, said: "Our design means several probes can be installed semi-permanently in a structure and then connected to a logger, which will constantly collect readings. This can be left until the readings indicate conditions have changed enough to warrant a full investigation. Remedial work will be simpler, cheaper and more effective at this stage, rather than waiting until there is visible damage, such as parts of the concrete coming away."

Traditional optical corrosion sensors have only a limited lifetime, usually of several weeks, because of the corrosive alkaline levels within concrete. The new sensors are expected to last for several years, with proper protection, even where pH levels are high.

Explore further: 21st century science harnessed to help preserve historic buildings

Related Stories

Using wireless sensors to monitor bridge safety

February 23, 2009

University of Texas (UT) professor, Dean Neikirk, will be field-testing a new bridge monitoring system within the year. The project is a collaboration between industry, government, and academia that will provide real-time ...

Tracking down rust

April 5, 2010

( -- Damage to concrete bridges caused by rust can have fatal consequences, at worst leading to a total collapse. Now, researchers have developed an early-warning system for rust. Sensor-transponders integrated ...

Wireless nano sensors could save bridges, buildings

April 9, 2010

Could inexpensive wireless sensors based on nanotechnology be used to alert engineers to problematic cracks and damage to buildings, bridges, and other structures before they become critical? A feasibility study published ...

Concrete answers needed for climate change effects

March 23, 2011

Understanding how climate change could impact on the deterioration of the basic building block of much of Australia's infrastructure – concrete – is crucial to ensuring major assets such as roads, ports and buildings ...

Recommended for you

US ends bulk collection of phone data

November 30, 2015

The US government has halted its controversial program to collect vast troves of information from Americans' phone calls, a move prompted by the revelations of former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

How can people safely take control from a self-driving car?

November 30, 2015

New cars that can steer and brake themselves risk lulling people in the driver's seat into a false sense of security—and even to sleep. One way to keep people alert may be providing distractions that are now illegal.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 25, 2012
This article is really devoid of information. Other than that they developed a new optical sensor there is not one word on how they achieved this increasd robustness against changes in pH levels.
not rated yet Jan 26, 2012
"Because the sensors can withstand long-term placement within concrete, unlike any equivalent sensors currently available"
Clearly they failed to do an internet search:
The IP on this is rock solid in the US and China so I guess they can try to sell their sensors elsewhere.... Also they only look at 3 aspects of corrosion, the already existing sensor looks at 5.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.