Non-Destructive Condition Assessment of Concrete Slabs with Artificial Defects Using Wireless Impact Echo

Title: Non-Destructive Condition Assessment of Concrete Slabs with Artificial Defects Using Wireless Impact Echo
Authors: Lacroix, Francis
Date: 2020-12-16
Abstract: This thesis presents the development and validation of a new wireless Impact Echo (IE) system for condition assessment of reinforced concrete slabs. The new IE prototype was compared with other commercially available non-destructive testing (NDT) devices used for similar purposes, namely Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Ultrasonic Pulse Echo (UPE). Monitoring and structural inspections are critical to effective management of civil infrastructure and NDTs can enhance the quality of condition assessments by providing objective visualizations of the interior of a structural element. The IE method, first developed in the 1980s, has seen few advancements in the last 20 years. The method has been standardized and used on site, but the underlying technology has become outdated. The data obtained from the transducer is difficult to interpret and requires a computer to post-process it before being usable, thus limiting the direct feedback of the method when conducting tests on-site. Because of those limitations and the test being relatively more time consuming than other alternatives, the method is lacking in usability. A new prototype IE device was designed and built by the project industry partner, FPrimeC Solutions. The methodology followed the traditional approach, but it was designed to work with today’s technology. The device is operated wirelessly via a Bluetooth connection, uses smaller-sized electronic components, and connects with a user-friendly interface on a small tablet to set-up the tests and compute the results immediately. The first part of the project focused on product development by testing iterations of the prototype and providing user feedback to improve the device and accompanying software. The second part of the project aimed to validate the new technology using a set of three large reinforced concrete slabs containing artificial defects. The studied points of interest were sound concrete, effect of boundaries and steel reinforcements, vertical cracks, presence of a hollow conduit, artificial voids and delamination. The IE results were also compared with those from commercial GPR and UPE devices. GPR was found to be the quickest method by far, although the results gathered seemed to be limited by the presence of steel reinforcement and also failed to locate certain defects. UPE was a bit slower than GPR, but was generally able to locate more accurately the artificial flaws created in the test specimens. The results showed poor definition of the flaws making it difficult sometimes to properly locate them. The UPE results also seemed to be negatively affected by the presence of reinforcement which were causing frequent abnormal values. Lastly, the IE method was used. This method was greatly improved during the first phase, but it is still a time-consuming method. The value of the data, however, has great potential when compared to the other options. It accurately located most of the flaws generated and was practically unaffected by the presence of steel reinforcing bars. Also, with further analysis of the data, it was possible to determine the depth of some of the flaws accurately. Due to the time-consuming testing phase and the longer analysis of the data required to obtain the higher quality of results, this study suggests that IE is not likely to be the best choice for a general inspection of a large area (depending on the nature of the information needed). Rather, it is suggested to first conduct a general review of the structure using a quicker method like GPR to locate the problematic areas. After that, refining the grid at key locations to test with IE should provide the best quality of data in a reasonable amount of time.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -