Off-campus Michigan Tech users: To download campus access theses or dissertations, please use the following button to log in with your Michigan Tech ID and password: log in to proxy server

Non-Michigan Tech users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis or dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Theresa (Tess) M. Ahlborn


Infrared thermography is a well-recognized non-destructive testing technique for evaluating concrete bridge elements such as bridge decks and piers. However, overcoming some obstacles and limitations are necessary to be able to add this invaluable technique to the bridge inspector's tool box. Infrared thermography is based on collecting radiant temperature and presenting the results as a thermal infrared image. Two methods considered in conducting an infrared thermography test include passive and active. The source of heat is the main difference between these two approaches of infrared thermography testing. Solar energy and ambient temperature change are the main heat sources in conducting a passive infrared thermography test, while active infrared thermography involves generating a temperature gradient using an external source of heat other than sun.

Passive infrared thermography testing was conducted on three concrete bridge decks in Michigan. Ground truth information was gathered through coring several locations on each bridge deck to validate the results obtained from the passive infrared thermography test. Challenges associated with data collection and processing using passive infrared thermography are discussed and provide additional evidence to confirm that passive infrared thermography is a promising remote sensing tool for bridge inspections.

To improve the capabilities of the infrared thermography technique for evaluation of the underside of bridge decks and bridge girders, an active infrared thermography technique using the surface heating method was developed in the laboratory on five concrete slabs with simulated delaminations. Results from this study demonstrated that active infrared thermography not only eliminates some limitations associated with passive infrared thermography, but also provides information regarding the depth of the delaminations.

Active infrared thermography was conducted on a segment of an out-of-service prestressed box beam and cores were extracted from several locations on the beam to validate the results. This study confirms the feasibility of the application of active infrared thermography on concrete bridges and of estimating the size and depth of delaminations.

From the results gathered in this dissertation, it was established that applying both passive and active thermography can provide transportation agencies with qualitative and quantitative measures for efficient maintenance and repair decision-making.

VAGHEFI_Suppl.pdf (17609 kB)