Acoustic Emission as a Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) method for stay cables

Research into the possibilities of AE for stay cables of cable stayed bridges

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The stay cables of the north bridge of the Galecopperbrug are reaching the end of their life span. Rijkswaterstaat, which is responsible for the bridges, needs a reliable Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) method to monitor the current state of the stay cables. At the moment, Rijkswaterstaat experiences issues with defining the state and the residual life span of the stay cables of the
Galecopperbrug. This study focuses on the technique of Acoustic Emission (AE) for monitoring the stay cables of the Galecopperbrug. The main research question of this study was: “Is the AE-system used in a fracture-based assessment suitable for structural health monitoring of the stay cables of the Galecopperbrug?”. In this study the following methods were used to investigate the AE behaviour of stay cables: a literature study on previous research and the current knowledge of AE and the structural behaviour of cables was done, a full-scale and two verification experiments were performed to investigate the AE behaviour related to wire breaks and to investigate the accuracy of linear source location techniques, an analytical model of the stay cables was made to investigate the influence of different parameters to the capacity of the stay cables and to predict the stress distribution in the wires during the experiment and finally, a SCIA model of the Galecopperbrug was used to investigate the load bearing distribution of the Galecopperbrug. In this study, it was found that wire breaks inside (stay) cables will generate elastic stress waves which can be captured and recorded by AE sensors. Based on an experiment where multiple wire breaks occurred, it was shown that wire breaks can be identified with the help of AE techniques. However, the identification of wire breaks is mainly depending on the correct choice of sensor type. Based on the experiments and assumptions that were made in this study the R6I-AST type of sensors are more suitable for wire break detection and the R3I-AST sensors are more suitable for AE signals due to impacts. Based on the assumptions and the experiments performed in this study it can be concluded that AE can be used in a fracture-based assessment for SHM of the stay cables of the Galecopperbrug.