PITA Fiscal Year 2010 Projects - Innovative Infrastructure Systems

Intellingent Non-Destructive Inspection Of Highway Sign And Signal Structures Using Acoustic Emission And Ultrasonic Guided Wave

Principal Investigators: Sougata Roy, Co-PI: Dr. Meghnad Wagh

Wind induced fatigue cracking of highway sign, signal and high level luminaire structures are increasingly being reported in recent years. Failure of these strcutures pose significant safety hazards, high risk of property damage, and can have severe economic impact in terms of inspection, maintenance and possible replacement of sheer volume of the structures in existing inventory. Traditional periodic inspections primarily relying on visual inspection and conventional non -destructive evaluation methods are often inadequate to effectively meet the challenge with limited resources. A paradigm shift from time based to condition based preventive maintenance is necessary that incorporates continuous structural health monitoring using state-of-the-art sensor networks and advanced algorithms to provide real time information and early warning. A collaborative research project between the ATLSS Engineering Research Center, Lehigh University and Waves in Solids LLC (WINS), a Pennsylvania company specializing in Non Destructive Evaluation is being proposed for developing a reliable and intelligent health monitoring solution involving Acoustic Emission (AE) and Long Range Ultrasonic Guided Wave (LRUT) technologies. Six full size sign and signal structures that are being fatigue tested under simulated service conditions for the ongoing NCHRP Project 10-70 at the ATLSS Center, will be monitored to evaluate and develop these technologies. It is anticipated that the research will open up the possibility of condition based maintenance of the subject structures and similar other structures such as, transmission towers and wind turbines, and will enable efficient utilization of dwindling infrastructure funding. The technology development will enhance the growth potential of a Pennsylvania company and will directly contribute to the state’s economic growth in terms of increased investment and sales, creation of new jobs, and retention of quality educated labor in the state. The project will also help Pennsylvania to be in the forefront of technological research, innovation and education.