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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cement-based sensors for structural health monitoring Azhari, Faezeh


The purpose of structural health monitoring is to continuously and accurately assess the performance of structures using a sensory system. Recently introduced, cement-based sensors are piezoresistive and therefore can be used to sense stress/strain, simply by monitoring their electrical resistivity. These sensors, also known as smart (self-monitoring) structural materials can be used as a part or total component of structures and provide both structural capability and response to applied stress and damage. In this study cement-based sensors are developed using two types of carbon fibres, as well as both single-walled and multi-walled carbon nano-tubes. A wide range of experiments were conducted to pinpoint the most efficient fibre content, frequency, electrode type and resistivity measurement technique. The influence of different parameters such as curing, temperature, moisture and chloride were also investigated. The resistivity of the specimens increased with curing time, but became almost constant after a certain amount of time. The resistivity values decreased with increasing temperature and increased with the decrease in temperature at a rate of about 22-35 ohm-cm/°C. It was further found that moisture and chloride have a considerable influence on the electrical resistivity of these sensors. Next, the response of the developed cement-based sensors to compressive, tensile and flexural loading was explored. The resistivity values from the sensors were compared with load and displacement values as well as strain data acquired from conventional strain gauges. The results indicate that electrical resistivity of the sensors increases reversibly upon tension and decreases reversibly under compression provided that substantial cracking does not occur and the sensor remains in the elastic range. Once a dense field of micro-cracking followed by macro-cracking occurs, these sensors respond distinctly, possibly even prior to the appearance of visible cracks, providing an early prediction of any upcoming failure. The resistivity measurements under both compressive and tensile stress demonstrated an excellent correlation with strain. The developed sensors offer gauge factors well above those of electrical strain gauges. It is concluded, therefore, that cement-based sensors can be the future alternative for conventional sensors in the structural health monitoring of concrete structures.

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