Disbond Detection with Piezoelectric Wafer Active Sensors in RC Structures Strengthened with FRP Composite Overlays

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Mechanical Engineering


The capability of embedded piezoelectric wafer active sensors (PWAS) to perform in-situ nondestructive evaluation (NDE) for structural health monitoring (SHM) of reinforced concrete (RC) structures strengthened with fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite overlays is explored. First, the disbond detection method were developed on coupon specimens consisting of concrete blocks covered with an FRP composite layer. It was found that the presence of a disbond crack drastically changes the electromechanical (E/M) impedance spectrum measured at the PWAS terminals. The spectral changes depend on the distance between the PWAS and the crack tip. Second, large scale experiments were conducted on a RC beam strengthened with carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite overlay. The beam was subject to an accelerated fatigue load regime in a three-point bending configuration up to a total of 807,415 cycles. During these fatigue tests, the CFRP overlay experienced disbonding beginning at about 500,000 cycles. The PWAS were able to detect the disbonding before it could be reliably seen by visual inspection. Good correlation between the PWAS readings and the position and extent of disbond damage was observed. These preliminary results demonstrate the potential of PWAS technology for SHM of RC structures strengthened with FRP composite overlays.