Acoustic Emission Monitoring of Florida Mast-Arm Poles Susceptible to Fatigue

INTRODUCTION Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) is a valuable resource when evaluating the health of structures. Acoustic emission (AE) which is a powerful nondestructive technique was used on two Florida mast arms with changeable screens which aid in event of hurricane evacuations. These mast arms have been identified by Florida Department of Transportation (FDoT) to be highly susceptible to fatigue and large vibration even during medium wind situations. Already several mast arms with fatigue cracks had to be replaced. The aim of this research was to show the capability of live monitoring for fatigue as well as attempting to predict residual life. In order to better compare the acoustic emission from the two poles that are not cracked several cracked poles were investigated. On one of the poles two transducers were placed on either side of a known crack. Source location was used to find the sources of the acoustic emissions. Additionally, a Kohonen self organizing map (SOM) neural network (NN) was used to perform classification of the different AE sources. This research will be used to further the technology of AE and NNs so that it can be used on more complex structures. The prediction of fatigue live in steel laboratory specimens was done by the authors with worst case of prediction error of 20% for only first 25% of AE data [1-4].

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