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   Ultrasonic monitoring of concrete using embedded piezoelectric transducers

Arnaud DeraemaekerCédric Dumoulin, Grigorios Karaiskos



 Prof D. Aggelis and D. Van Hemelrijck (VUB, Belgium)


Past Collaborations

 Prof G. Song (University of Houston, Texas)

 Prof J. Turner (University of Nebrask, Lincoln)

 Dr J.Y. Sener (MS3 Company, Belgium)

Keywords Non Destructive Testing (NDT), piezoelectric transducer, ultrasonic, embedded in concrete, early-age, setting, hardening, Structural Health Monitoring (SHM), damage/crack detection


Current practice for ultrasonic testing of concrete consists in using external bulky and expensive piezoelectric transducers coupled to an interrogation unit. The transducers need to be held by hand by a technicien and their position is limited to the external surface of the concrete element. This restricts the wave propagation to through thickness, indirect and semi-direct paths. The system is not suited for on-line permanent monitoring of concrete and is limited to scheduled manual inspections.

Figure 1 : Current ultrasonic testing of concrete using external transducers and associated transmission techniques

Embedded transducers

At ULB-BATir, we have been developping low-cost embedded piezoelectric transducers for ultrasonic testing of concrete (Figure 2). The main advantates of using these transducers are (i) their low cost which allows to embed them permanently, (ii) an improved coupling with the concrete for stronger waves generation over longer paths, (iii) flexibility in the transducers arrangement which allows for direct wave propagation paths, and (iv) the possibility to monitor permanently on-line without any user interaction.

Figure 2 : Embedded piezoelectric transducers developed at BATir-ULB

Main applications

The transducers are linked to an interrogation unit which allows to send excitation signals to the emitter (such as a pulse in Figure 3), and record the signal at the receiver. We have been developping a switch application which allows to interrogate multiple pairs of emitter-receiver successively.


The main applications are focused on the estimation of the mechanical properties during the setting and hardening period (i.e. at early age) as well as the state of damage in the hardened state. The transducers have also been used for the monitoring of self-healing concrete in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB)

Figure 3 : Emitter-receiver pair embedded in a concrete beam


2011-2013: FNRS-MIS: Automated damage localization systems for civil engineering structures: application to cracking in prestressed concrete

2012-2016 : FNRS-GRANT : C. Dumoulin : In situ monitoring of concrete behaviour based on embedded piezoelectric transducers

Selected publications

[1] Gu H., Song G., Dhonde H., Mo Y.L. and Yan S.. Concrete early-age strength monitoring using embedded piezoelectric transducers. Smart Materials and Structures 15(6), (2006).

[2] Dumoulin C., Karaiskos G., Carette J., Staquet S. and Deraemaeker A.. Monitoring of the ultrasonic P-wave velocity in early-age concrete with embedded piezoelectric transducers. Smart Materials and Structures, 21(4), (2012).

[3] C. Dumoulin, G. Karaiskos, and A. Deraemaeker. Monitoring of Crack Propagation in Reinforced Concrete Beams using Embedded Piezoelectric Transducers. Acoustic emission and related nondestructive evaluation techniques in the fracture mechanics of concrete: fundamentals and applications. Woodhead, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-78242-327-0.

[4] C. Dumoulin, G. Karaiskos, and A. Deraemaeker. Concrete Monitoring using Embedded Piezoelectric Transducers. Encyclopedia of Earthquake Engineering. Springer, 2014

[5] E. Tsangouri, G. Karaiskos, D.G. Aggelis, A. Deraemaeker, and D. Van Hemelrijck. Crack sealing and damage recovery monitoring of a concrete healing system using embedded piezoelectric transducers. Structural Health Montoring, 2015. 1475921715596219.

[6] C. Dumoulin, G. Karaiskos, J.Y. Sener, and A. Deraemaeker. On-line monitoring of cracking in concrete structures using embedded piezoelectric transducers. Smart Materials and Structures, 23(11), 2014. 115016

[7] G. Karaiskos, A. Deraemaeker, D.G. Aggelis, and D. Van Hemelrijck. Monitoring of concrete structures using the ultrasonic pulse velocity method. SmartMaterials and Structures, 24(11), 2015. 113001