Picking up bad vibes to gauge bridge health

May 02, 2007

By monitoring changes in vibrations of bridges it is possible to identify hidden cracks and fractures, according to a Queensland University of Technology researcher.

QUT engineering researcher Henry Shih said variations in bridge vibrations of a bridge could be a telling sign of its structural "health".

"It's not always possible to see damage to a bridge, but using vibrations it is possible to 'see' what can't be seen," he said.

"Changes in the physical properties of a structure, such as cracks and fractures in a bridge, will cause changes in its vibration. By monitoring these vibrations it is possible to detect any changes which may indicate bridge damage."

QUT has undertaken research in bridge vibration for more than 10 years and this has involved monitoring vibrations in some of Brisbane's bridges.

As a part of this on-going research program Mr Shih will develop models to assess the damage in certain types of bridges.

Mr Shih said given Brisbane was a river city linked by a criss-cross of bridges, it was important to continuously monitor the "health" of these structures.

"Bridges form an important part of civil infrastructure and are normally designed to have long life spans. But changes in load characteristics, deterioration with age, environmental influences and random actions may cause damage to bridges," he said.

"Continuously monitoring the health of bridges will enable the early identification of distress and allow appropriate retrofitting in order to avoid bridge failure or collapse."

Mr Shih's research will use computer modelling to test the vibration characteristics of beam type and truss type bridges before and after damage

"As part of the study we will install sensors to monitor the vibrations of simulated bridge models in the laboratory. We will then calibrate the computer models to ensure the data is accurate," he said.

"Just like an electrocardiogram can measure the health of a heart, by monitoring vibration characteristics we can evaluate the health of a bridge."

He said by inputting the data into a computer modelling system it was possible to assess whether or not the bridge was in distress or at risk of failure or collapse.

"We are going to be able to rate how healthy the bridge is and also monitor its deterioration over time."

Source: Queensland University of Technology

Explore further: MIT team's wireless Vital-Radio could follow breathing, heart rate at home

Related Stories

Vibrations reveal state of bridge ropes

Jan 10, 2014

The new ResoBridge method has been developed to check bridges during running traffic within one day. It measures the vibrations of the tensioning ropes of externally prestressed concrete bridges. The test ...

Recommended for you

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

Apr 24, 2015

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic

Apr 24, 2015

Imagine a glass window that's tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn't get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn't break when dropped. Except it's not glass, it's a special ceramic called ...

Classroom acoustics for architects

Apr 23, 2015

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has published a free online booklet for architects to aid in the application of ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1-American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, ...

User comments : 0

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.