Condition Assessment of Cemented Materials Using Ultrasonic Surface Waves
Kirlangic, Ahmet Serhan
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Mechanical waves provide information about the stiffness and the condition of a medium; thus, changes in medium conditions can be inferred from changes in wave velocity and attenuation. Non-destructive testing (NDT) methods based on ultrasonic waves are often more economical, practical and faster than destructive testing. Multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW) is a well-established surface wave method used for determination of the shear-wave profile of layered medium. The MASW test configuration is also applicable to assess the condition of concrete elements using appropriate frequency range. Both attenuation and dispersion of ultrasonic waves can be evaluated by this technique. In ultrasonic testing, the characterization of a medium requires the precise measurement of its response to ultrasonic pulses to infer the presence of defects and boundary conditions. However, any ultrasonic transducer attached to a surface affects the measured response; especially at high frequencies. On the other hand, ultrasonic transducers available for engineering application are mostly used to measure wave velocities (travel time method). Therefore, these transducers do not have a flat response in the required frequency range. Moreover, in the case of full-waveform methods, the recorded signals should be normalized with respect to the transfer functions of the transducers to obtain the real response of the tested specimen. The main objective of this research is to establish a comprehensive methodology based on surface wave characteristics (velocity, attenuation and dispersion) for condition assessment of cemented materials with irregular defects. To achieve the major objective, the MASW test configuration is implemented in the ultrasonic frequency range. The measured signals are subjected to various signal processing techniques to extract accurate information. In addition, a calibration procedure is conducted to determine the frequency response functions (FRF) of the piezoelectric accelerometers outside their nominal frequency range. This calibration is performed using a high-frequency laser vibrometer. This research includes three main studies. The first study introduces the calibration approach to measure the FRFs of the accelerometers outside of their flat frequency range. The calibrated accelerometers are then used to perform MASW tests on a cemented-sand medium. The original signals and the corrected ones by eliminating the effect of the FRFs are used to determine material damping of the medium. Although, the damping ratios obtained from different accelerometers are not same, the values from the corrected signals are found closer to the characteristic damping value compared to those from the uncorrected signals. The second study investigates the sensitivity of Rayleigh wave velocity, attenuation coefficient, material damping and dispersion in phase velocity to evaluate the sensitivity of these characteristics to the damage quantity in a medium. The soft cemented-sand medium is preferred as the test specimen so that well-defined shaped defects could be created in the medium. MASW test configuration is implemented on the medium for different cases of defect depth. The recorded signals are processed using different signal processing techniques including Fourier and wavelet transforms and empirical mode decomposition to determine the surface wave characteristics accurately. A new index, ‘dispersion index’, is introduced which quantifies the defect based on the dispersive behaviour. All surface wave characteristics are found capable of reflecting the damage quantity of the test medium at different sensitivity levels. In the final study, the condition assessment of six lab-scale concrete beams with different void percent is performed. The beam specimens involving Styrofoam pellets with different ratios are tested under ultrasonic and mechanical equipment. The assessment produce established in the second study with well-defined defects is pursed for the beams with irregular defects. Among the characteristics, attenuation, P and R-wave velocities and dispersion index are found as the promising characteristics for quantifying the defect volume.