Application of Fibre Optics on Reinforced Concrete Structures to Develop a Structural Health Monitoring Technique
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To better manage deteriorating infrastructure, quantitative data about the performance of infrastructure assets is required. Rayleigh based distributed fibre optic strain sensing (FOS) is a technology that has the potential to offer this type of data and unlike traditional strain sensors it can measure the strain along the full length of the structure. A series of experiments were undertaken to develop installation techniques and evaluate sensor accuracy for typical civil engineering materials: steel, concrete and reinforced concrete. The results of these experiments showed that the choice of sensing fibre and adhesive was dependent on the material being monitored. When the sensing fibre and adhesive are chosen correctly, the Rayleigh system can provide the same accuracy as a strain gauge for steel and concrete, and useful measurements can be obtained even in areas of concrete cracking. The FOS technique was utilized to determine whether distributed strain measurements could be used to detect and quantify localized deterioration of the steel reinforcement (localized area reductions of 0-30%) at service loads. A series of specimens was tested, the sensing system was able to detect the presence of localized deterioration with embedded nylon and polyimide fibres, but the nylon fibre cannot quantify large strain gradients due to slip within the sensing fibre. The strain profiles gave insights to the failure mechanism occurring in the reinforced concrete specimens. The strain profiles for both test series indicated that the tension reinforcement was acting as a tension tie and the strain profiles suggested the presence of compressive struts indicative of an arching mechanism in the specimens. The Black River bridge in Madoc, Ontario was instrumented with fibre optics sensors to determine whether the use of FOS is both practical and beneficial for reinforced concrete bridge assessment when compared to conventional instrumentation. The FOS showed reasonably good agreement with conventional sensors. The fibre optic strain results are used to calculate curvature, slope and displacement but careful consideration of the boundary conditions is required. The results from the fibre optic sensors can be used to show the bridge load distribution and give insights into the support conditions of the beams.