Non-destructive Measurements of Residual Stresses in Bridges Using an Ultrasonic Method

Bridges are vital in our society for uninterrupted transportation of goods and people on roads and railways and timely maintenance and repair of bridges are of outmost importance. The residual stresses have a significant effect on the process of the initiation and propagation of the fatigue cracks in welded elements and are responsible for many bridge failures. Knowledge of residual stresses, their distribution and their nature is, therefore, of paramount importance in all stages of bridge’s design, building and maintenance. A portable instrument, UltraMARS that is capable of measuring residual stresses in bulk (averaged through thickness) and in surface and subsurface layers using ultrasonic waves of different frequencies was used in the conducted investigations. The main principles of operation and used methodology are briefly discussed, with actual measurement examples using the bulk, the surface and the subsurface presented. An overview of residual stress measurements in welded elements of railway and highway bridges using the described non-destructive ultrasonic measurement technique is presented. The residual stresses were measured in a bridge that was damaged and in structural details of bridges as well as in a number of welded bridges before and after application of improvement treatment used to beneficially redistribute the residual stresses. The obtained data on residuals stress distribution had proven that the non-destructive ultrasonic method for measurement of residual stresses is a practical and useful tool in maintenance and repair of bridges.



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