Analysis of acoustic emission data for accurate damage assessment for structural health monitoring applications

Kaphle, Manindra R. (2012) Analysis of acoustic emission data for accurate damage assessment for structural health monitoring applications. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Structural health monitoring (SHM) refers to the procedure used to assess the condition of structures so that their performance can be monitored and any damage can be detected early. Early detection of damage and appropriate retrofitting will aid in preventing failure of the structure and save money spent on maintenance or replacement and ensure the structure operates safely and efficiently during its whole intended life. Though visual inspection and other techniques such as vibration based ones are available for SHM of structures such as bridges, the use of acoustic emission (AE) technique is an attractive option and is increasing in use. AE waves are high frequency stress waves generated by rapid release of energy from localised sources within a material, such as crack initiation and growth. AE technique involves recording these waves by means of sensors attached on the surface and then analysing the signals to extract information about the nature of the source. High sensitivity to crack growth, ability to locate source, passive nature (no need to supply energy from outside, but energy from damage source itself is utilised) and possibility to perform real time monitoring (detecting crack as it occurs or grows) are some of the attractive features of AE technique.

In spite of these advantages, challenges still exist in using AE technique for monitoring applications, especially in the area of analysis of recorded AE data, as large volumes of data are usually generated during monitoring. The need for effective data analysis can be linked with three main aims of monitoring: (a) accurately locating the source of damage; (b) identifying and discriminating signals from different sources of acoustic emission and (c) quantifying the level of damage of AE source for severity assessment.

In AE technique, the location of the emission source is usually calculated using the times of arrival and velocities of the AE signals recorded by a number of sensors. But complications arise as AE waves can travel in a structure in a number of different modes that have different velocities and frequencies. Hence, to accurately locate a source it is necessary to identify the modes recorded by the sensors. This study has proposed and tested the use of time-frequency analysis tools such as short time Fourier transform to identify the modes and the use of the velocities of these modes to achieve very accurate results. Further, this study has explored the possibility of reducing the number of sensors needed for data capture by using the velocities of modes captured by a single sensor for source localization.

A major problem in practical use of AE technique is the presence of sources of AE other than crack related, such as rubbing and impacts between different components of a structure. These spurious AE signals often mask the signals from the crack activity; hence discrimination of signals to identify the sources is very important. This work developed a model that uses different signal processing tools such as cross-correlation, magnitude squared coherence and energy distribution in different frequency bands as well as modal analysis (comparing amplitudes of identified modes) for accurately differentiating signals from different simulated AE sources.

Quantification tools to assess the severity of the damage sources are highly desirable in practical applications. Though different damage quantification methods have been proposed in AE technique, not all have achieved universal approval or have been approved as suitable for all situations. The b-value analysis, which involves the study of distribution of amplitudes of AE signals, and its modified form (known as improved b-value analysis), was investigated for suitability for damage quantification purposes in ductile materials such as steel. This was found to give encouraging results for analysis of data from laboratory, thereby extending the possibility of its use for real life structures.

By addressing these primary issues, it is believed that this thesis has helped improve the effectiveness of AE technique for structural health monitoring of civil infrastructures such as bridges.

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ID Code: 53201
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tan, Chit, Chan, Tommy, & Thambiratnam, David
Keywords: acoustic emission, structural health monitoring, crack growth, sensors, stress waves, source localization, short time fourier transform, source differentiation, cross-correlation, magnitude squared coherence, damage quantification, improved B-value analysis
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2012 06:33
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:02

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