Ultrasonic tomography of grouted duct post-tensioned reinforced concrete bridge beams

J. Martin, K. J. Broughton, Antonios Giannopoulos, M. S. A. Hardy, Michael Forde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Some concern exists over the safety and durability of the 600 post-tensioned bridges in the UK, and the much larger number worldwide. The objective of the work reported herein was to identify voiding in the metallic tendon ducts in these bridges. Voiding can give rise to two sets of problems: (a) possible ingress of chlorides, which would cause corrosion; and (b) a lack of redistribution of stress within the beam. It was against this background that it was important to first of all identify the extent of voiding in post-tensioned bridges.

The new technique of ultrasonic tomography was used for the trials reported in this paper. Two test beams were examined: a 10 m long beam at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Crowthorne, UK and a short test beam constructed at Stanger Science and Environment, Elstree, UK. The ducts in the TRL beam were 40 mm in diameter. This is smaller than would normally be encountered in a post-tensioned bridge beam. A more usual duct diameter would be 100-110 mm with a cover of around 125 mm. The second test beam at Stanger Science and Environment, Elstree contained 100-mm diameter ducts.

The time-of-flight tomography data obtained demonstrated that it is a potentially highly successful method of investigating post-tensioned concrete beams. The method is somewhat time consuming and so should be used in conjunction with a simpler testing method, e.g. sonic impact-echo, which identifies areas of interest. The smaller the ducts to be investigated, the smaller the required distances between testing stations. This therefore significantly increases the testing time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalNDT and E International: Independent Nondestructive Testing and Evaluation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Post-tensioned concrete
  • Bridges
  • Ducts
  • Voids
  • Ultrasonic
  • Tomography


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