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Study of acoustic emission technique for concrete damage detection

Jun Zhou



The Acoustic emission (AE) technique, as one of non-intrusive and nondestructive evaluation techniques, acquires and analyzes the signals emitting from deformation or fracture of materials/structures under service loading. The AE technique has been successfully applied in damage detection in various materials such as metal, alloy, concrete, polymers and other composite materials. In this study, the AE technique was used for detecting crack behavior within concrete specimens under mechanical and environmental frost loadings. The instrumentations of the AE system used in this study include a low-frequency AE sensor, a computer-based data acquisition device and a preamplifier linking the AE sensor and the data acquisition device. The AE system purchased from Mistras Group was used in this study.

The AE technique was applied to detect damage with the following laboratory tests: the pencil lead test, the mechanical three-point single-edge notched beam bending (SEB) test, and the freeze-thaw damage test. Firstly, the pencil lead test was conducted to verify the attenuation phenomenon of AE signals through concrete materials. The value of attenuation was also quantified. Also, the obtained signals indicated that this AE system was properly setup to detect damage in concrete. Secondly, the SEB test with lab-prepared concrete beam was conducted by employing Mechanical Testing System (MTS) and AE system. The cumulative AE events and the measured loading curves, which both used the crack-tip open displacement (CTOD) as the horizontal coordinate, were plotted. It was found that the detected AE events were qualitatively correlated with the global force-displacement behavior of the specimen. The Weibull distribution was proposed to quantitatively describe the rupture probability density function. The linear regression analysis was conducted to calibrate the Weibull distribution parameters with detected AE signals and to predict the rupture probability as a function of CTOD for the specimen. Finally, the controlled concrete freeze-thaw cyclic tests were designed and the AE technique was planned to investigate the internal frost damage process of concrete specimens.