Wireless Structural Health Monitoring System Based on a Piezoelectric Fatigue Fuse

A major issue facing the world’s inventory of aging steel bridges is cracking associated with fatigue damage. The primary method used to evaluate these cracks is visual inspection. However, visual inspection is labor intensive, misidentifies cracks and may have insufficient inspection intervals. To provide a more reliable way to monitor fatigue, a Fatigue Fuse (FF) system is proposed that integrates a piezoelectric status monitor, an energy harvester, and a wireless communication link. The FF is a highly calibrated metal analog sensor made of the same material as the host structure. It is designed with several pre-notched ligaments that fracture after specific number of load cycles have been accumulated. The steel FFs are undergoing qualification to bring them to a technology readiness level of 6. Currently, the fuses require visual inspection, but it can also be self-powered and interrogated remotely by incorporating a piezoelectric pitch-catch circuits and kinetic energy harvesting system. The pitch piezoelectric excites a fundamental acoustic mode in the FF and the catch piezoelectric senses the vibration. When the crack propagates across the fuse, the resulting catch electrical signal changes along with the mechanical stiffness of the fuse. This mechanical information is stored in the fuse and the fatigue status then needs to be interrogated and sent across a wireless network. As a result, the electronics for remote sensing can remain in a low power dormant mode. This fatigue monitoring system provides a convenient method to assess the useful life of steel infrastructure and prevent catastrophic failures.



  • Delatte, N. J., 2009, Beyond Failure: Forensic Case Studies for Civil Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Schijve, J., 2009, “Fatigue Damage in Aircraft Structures, Not Wanted, but Tolerated?,” Int. J. Fatigue, 31(6), pp. 998–1011.
  • Graybeal, B., Rolander, D., Phares, B., Moore, M., and Washer, G., 2001, “Reliability and Accuracy of In-Depth Inspection of Highway Bridges,” Transp. Res. Rec. J. Transp. Res. Board, 1749(1), pp. 93–99.
  • Cha, H., Liu, B., Prakash, A., and Varma, A. H., 2016, Efficient Load Rating and Quantification of Life-Cycle Damage of Indiana Bridges Due to Overweight Loads.
  • Liu, C., Teng, J., Wu, N., Liu, C., Teng, J., and Wu, N., 2015, “A Wireless Strain Sensor Network for Structural Health Monitoring,” Shock Vib., 2015, pp. 1–13.
  • Li, H. N., Li, D. S., and Song, G. B., 2004, “Recent Applications of Fiber Optic Sensors to Health Monitoring in Civil Engineering,” Eng. Struct., 26(11), pp. 1647–1657.
  • Socie, D. F., and Morrow, J., 1976, “Review Of Contemporary Approaches To Fatigue Damage Analysis,” p. 83.
  • Anand, L., and Parks, D. M., 2004, “Defect Free Fatigue,” MIT, Deparment of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Deparment of Mechanical Engineering, Cambridge, Massachusetts, pp. 1–37.
  • Pugno, N., Ciavarella, M., Cornetti, P., and Carpinteri, A., 2006, “A Generalized Paris’ Law for Fatigue Crack Growth,” J. Mech. Phys. Solids, 54(7), pp. 1333–1349.


Usage Shares
Total Views
13 Page Views
Total Shares
0 Tweets
0 PDF Downloads
0 Facebook Shares
Total Usage