The LAUS: First Applications of a New System for Ultrasonic Imaging of Very Concrete Structures

The LAUS (Large Aperture Ultrasonic System) has been developed to image very thick concrete structures, which are not accessible for commercial systems. The device and the corresponding software is the result of joint research of BAM, an ultrasonic instrument manufacturer and University of Kassel, Germany. It consists of 12 separate arrays of 32 point-contact shear wave transducers each, which can be deployed in flexible configurations. Each array is combined with battery and transmitter, receiver and wireless communication electronics. Three case histories are presented. First the system was deployed on a 5-m thick heavily reinforced foundation slab. The reflection of the slab’s bottom was imaged clearly. In addition, a multiple reflection was registered, thus giving hope that even thicker elements might be imaged by the instrument. Second, the LAUS was used to investigate a massive bridge girder where a heavy rainstorm during concreting had led to imperfections that were visible after removing the formwork was removed. The LAUS could image tendon ducts in 1.8m depth and the backwall closely behind them. Some limited areas showed blurred reflections and were checked by drill holes; these areas were affected by diffuse damage which could be repaired by injections. Third, a large retaining wall was checked for thickness. Meanwhile, the LAUS has been used in underground waste deposits (nuclear and other) for quality assurance of sealing plugs. A confirmed penetration depth of about 7 m has been reached.

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