Concrete Crack Detection and Monitoring Using a Capacitive Dense Sensor Array
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Cracks in concrete structures can be indicators of important damage and may significantly affect durability. Their timely identification can be used to ensure structural safety and guide on-time maintenance operations. Structural health monitoring solutions, such as strain gauges and fiber optics systems, have been proposed for the automatic monitoring of such cracks. However, these solutions become economically difficult to deploy when the surface under investigation is very large. This paper proposes to leverage a novel sensing skin for monitoring cracks in concrete structures. This sensing skin is constituted of a flexible electronic termed soft elastomeric capacitor, which detects a change in strain through changes in measured capacitance. The SEC is a low-cost, durable, and robust sensing technology that has previously been studied for the monitoring of fatigue cracks in steel components. In this study, the sensing skin is introduced and preliminary validation results on a small-scale reinforced concrete beam are presented. The technology is verified on a full-scale post-tensioned concrete beam. Results show that the sensing skin is capable of detecting, localizing, and quantifying cracks that formed in both the reinforced and post-tensioned concrete specimens.