Ultrasonic guided wave approach incorporating SAFE for detecting wire breakage in bridge cable
Ultrasonic guided waves have attracted increasing attention for non-destructive testing (NDT) and structural health monitoring (SHM) of bridge cables. They offer advantages like single measurement, wide coverage of acoustical field, and long-range propagation capability. To design defect detection systems, it is essential to understand how guided waves propagate in cables and how to select the optimal excitation frequency and mode. However, certain cable characteristics such as multiple wires, anchorage, and polyethylene (PE) sheath increase the complexity in analyzing the guided wave propagation. In this study, guided wave modes for multi-wire bridge cables are identified by using a semi-analytical finite element (SAFE) technique to obtain relevant dispersion curves. Numerical results indicated that the number of guided wave modes increases, the length of the flat region with a low frequency of L(0,1) mode becomes shorter, and the cutoff frequency for high order longitudinal wave modes becomes lower, as the number of steel wires in a cable increases. These findings were used in design of transducers for defect detection and selection of the optimal wave mode and frequency for subsequent experiments. A magnetostrictive transducer system was used to excite and detect the guided waves. The applicability of the proposed approach for detecting and locating wire breakages was demonstrated for a cable with 37 wires. The present ultrasonic guided wave method has been found to be very responsive to the number of brokenwires and is thus capable of detecting defects with varying sizes.
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