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Monitoring Fatigue Damage of Modular Bridge Expansion Joints Using Piezoceramic Transducers

School of Civil Engineering, Changsha University of Science and Technology, Changsha 410114, China
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3973;
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 5 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Sensors and Smart Structures)
PDF [4929 KB, uploaded 17 November 2018]


Modular bridge expansion joints (MBEJs) are commonly used in bridges and are often subjected to fatigue damages, which necessitate fatigue monitoring of MBEJs to ensure the reliable operation of the bridges. In this paper, a stress wave based active sensing approach using piezoceramic transducers is developed to monitor the fatigue damage of MBEJ. A MBEJ involves mainly center beam, edge beam, support bar, support box, sliding bearing, sliding spring, elastomeric strip seal, full-penetration weld and reinforcing plate. In practice, for a MBEJ, the part that is most prone to fatigue damage is the full-penetration weld between the center beam and the support bar. In this paper, a specimen, which is the full-scale center-beam/support-bar (CB/SB) assembly, was designed and fabricated to facilitate the experimental study. The assembly mainly includes center beam, support bar, reinforcing plate, and full-penetration weld. The lead zirconate titanate (PZT) transducer bonded on the support bar was used as the actuator and the PZT transducer mounted on the center beam was as the sensor. Dial indicators were utilized to measure the vertical displacement of the center beam. Two series of tests, including static test, and fatigue test, were performed on the specimen in an alternating fashion. Based on the number of cyclic loading, the experiment was divided into six different stages: 0th cycle (the healthy state), 0.8 million cycles, 1.6 million cycles, 2.4 million cycles, 3.2 million cycles, and 4 million cycles. The signals received by the PZT sensor were analyzed with the help of wavelet packet analysis. In addition, the structure stiffness also was considered as a comparative approach in this paper. Experimental results show that during the fatigue test, the structure stiffness decreases with the number of cycle loading. However, the method can only obtain the fatigue damage impact on the entire structure, and cannot determine the fatigue damage degree of a certain weld. On the other hand, the proposed method can accurately monitor the fatigue damage degree of full-penetration welds. The research results show that the developed piezoceramic enabled active sensing approach can monitor and estimate the fatigue damage in MBEJ in real-time. View Full-Text
Keywords: Lead zirconate titanate (PZT); modular bridge expansion joints (MBEJs); fatigue damage; wavelet packet-based energy; active Sensing Lead zirconate titanate (PZT); modular bridge expansion joints (MBEJs); fatigue damage; wavelet packet-based energy; active Sensing

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Jiang, T.; Zhang, Y.; Wang, L.; Zhang, L.; Song, G. Monitoring Fatigue Damage of Modular Bridge Expansion Joints Using Piezoceramic Transducers. Sensors 2018, 18, 3973.

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