Thumbnail Image
Publication or External Link
Zhou, Changjiang
Zhang, Yunfeng
Fatigue-induced cracking is a commonly seen problem in civil infrastructures reaching their original design life. A number of high-profile accidents have been reported in the past that involved fatigue damage in structures. Such incidences often happen without prior warnings due to lack of proper crack monitoring technique. In order to detect and monitor the fatigue crack, acoustic emission (AE) technique, has been receiving growing interests recently. AE can provide continuous and real-time monitoring data on damage progression in structures. Piezoelectric film AE sensor measures stress-wave induced strain in ultrasonic frequency range and its feasibility for AE signal monitoring has been demonstrated recently. However, extensive work in AE monitoring system development based on piezoelectric film AE sensor and sensor characterization on full-scale structures with fatigue cracks, have not been done. A lack of theoretical formulations for understanding the AE signals also hinders the use of piezoelectric film AE sensors. Additionally, crack detection and source localization with AE signals is a very important area yet to be explored for this new type of AE sensor. This dissertation presents the results of both analytical and experimental study on the signal characteristics of surface stress-wave induced AE strain signals measured by piezoelectric film AE sensors in near-field and an AE source localization method based on sensor couple theory. Based on moment tensor theory, generalized expression for AE strain signal is formulated. A special case involving the response of piezoelectric film AE sensor to surface load is also studied, which could potentially be used for sensor calibration of this type of sensor. A new concept of sensor couple theory based AE source localization technique is proposed and validated with both simulated and experimental data from fatigue test and field monitoring. Two series of fatigue tests were conducted to perform fatigue crack monitoring on large-scale steel test specimens using piezoelectric film AE sensors. Continuous monitoring of fatigue crack growth in steel structures is demonstrated in these fatigue test specimens. The use of piezoelectric film AE sensor for field monitoring of existing fatigue crack is also demonstrated in a real steel I-girder bridge located in Maryland. The sensor couple theory based AE source localization is validated using a limited number of piezoelectric film AE sensor data from both fatigue test specimens and field monitoring bridge. Through both laboratory fatigue test and field monitoring of steel structures with active fatigue cracks, the signal characteristics of piezoelectric film AE sensor have been studied in real-world environment.