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Evaluating Damage in Simple-span Prestressed Concrete Girders using Acoustic Emission: Laboratory Specimens and Existing County Bridge

The need for rapid, cost-effective, and reliable techniques for assessment and load rating of inservice concrete bridge girders has grown rapidly in recent years. Every agency in the United States has numerous old and/or deteriorated concrete bridges, many of which are classified as structurally deficient. The current state of nondestructive load testing practice includes two types of tests that can be implemented depending on the nature of the issue for a particular bridge: diagnostic load tests and proof load tests. In this paper, the use of acoustic emission monitoring for damage assessment during load tests is discussed in two case studies. In the first study, cyclic load testing in general conformance with ACI 437 was conducted on prestressed concrete T-shaped beams that had different initial conditions: five specimens were pre-cracked and corroded to different corrosion levels while the remaining unconditioned beams served as control specimens. The second study discusses a proof load test conducted to assess the condition of a simple-span, prestressed concrete double-T-beam bridge without plans located in southern New Mexico. The results of both studies demonstrate the feasibility of using acoustic emission data to classify damage during load tests.

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