Implementation of Thermal Infrared Imagery for Highway Concrete Bridge Decks

Critical conditions of highway bridges within the nation highlight the need for an easily deployable non-destructive tool with the ability to provide meaningful condition information for bridge inspectors and management teams. Thermal infrared (IR) imagery has been recognized as a useful tool for detecting delaminations and subsurface defects that are not visible to the human-eye. This technology collects surface radiant temperature and presents the results as a thermal IR image. During the day, delaminated areas within the concrete will appear as higher temperature areas within the thermal infrared image compared to sound concrete area around them. This non-destructive technology can yield both qualitative and quantitative indicators of condition. A delamination map, created from the outputs of a thermal IR bridge inspection, can help to document delaminations. Total area of delamination on the entire bridge deck can be calculated from the thermal IR images and can be reported as a percentage of delamination over the entire bridge deck. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the results of the deployment of this technology on three concrete bridge decks in Michigan as well as discuss the challenges that a bridge inspector may face during data collection and processing. Applying this technology can provide transportation agencies with useful measures for maintenance and repair decision making.

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