NDE for Steel Bridges

by Steven B. Chase, Research Structural Engineer; Federal Highway Administration, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101-2296,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 5, Pg. 49-51

Document Type: Feature article


Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) is the only way to detect fatigue cracks hidden by the paint on steel bridges, and FHWA-sponsored research into the problem has been given highest priority. Currently, it focuses on detection and monitoring of fatigue cracks as well as quantification of fatigue loading by evaluating modal analysis, resonant ultrasound spectroscopy and microwave interferometry as NDE tools, plus an improved bridge cable inspection system based on magnetic perturbation techniques. In brief, the systems are: (1) New Ultrasonic-Magnetic Crack Detection; (2) acoustic emission systems; (3) a fatigue loading indicator; and (4) Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy (RUS). These new technologies build on previous research such as the acoustic crack detector and the magnetic crack definer, acoustic emission research over two decades, and magnetic perturbation. Future plans are to research global bridge monitoring and evaluation, integrating such measurements into bridge management systems.

Subject Headings: Cracking | Bridge tests | Steel bridges | Fatigue (material) | Magnetic fields | Bridge management | Acoustics

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