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Nondestructive Evaluation Laboratory


Completed Projects

Since 2008, the following projects have been completed by the Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Laboratory:

The Evaluation of Section Loss Due to Corrosion in Single and Multi Plate Gusset Connections Using Non-Destructive Technologies (NDT) provided an initial examination of the capabilities of NDT systems for the inspection of steel truss gusset plates.  The study focused on two ultrasonic testing systems:  A phased array ultrasonic system, and a conventional single-element dry-coupled ultrasonic system. The results from tests on single plates ranging from 0.36 to 0.74 inches in thickness and with various geometries of section loss were presented and compared. A feasibility study for the inspection of hidden corrosion in multi plate gusset plate connections was also presented.

The inspection of concrete barriers and bridge railings that help prevent errant vehicles from departing roadways at grade changes has traditionally been performed visually.  The Non-Destructive Inspection Protocol for Reinforced Concrete Barriers and Bridge Railings project was initiated to determine more effective and efficient methods to inspect them. An investigation into the performance of existing nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technologies, and their ability to produce accurate, repeatable measurements on the anchorage points of concrete barriers was performed through laboratory tests on specimens with pre-fabricated flaws. The work provides information that will assist stakeholders, which will include State transportation departments, researchers, and bridge owners, to develop protocols for use of NDE technologies in the inspection of concrete barriers.

The Steel Bridge Testing Program (SBTP) focused on detecting and characterizing fatigue cracks on steel girders at high stress or critical detail locations where the presence of growing cracks is possible. In addition, locations with high concentrations of stress, particularly at steel weldments and sharp corners, were of interest. Several advanced commercially available crack detection and crack growth detection (crack monitoring) technologies were evaluated through an indepth laboratory testing (Phase I). In Phase II, testing of these technologies in the field and in actual bridge sites was conducted.

A National Research Council (NRC) project focused on developing means to detect corrosion in reinforced concrete structures by using the induction microwave thermoreflectometry method. The method was based on: (1) promising research performed about 10 years ago by Dr. Jane Spicer and colleagues at John Hopkins University under the supervision of Dr. Livingston; and (2) the development of a new microwave camera by Professor Maria Feng and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine. A collaborative effort was devised with the focus of designing and constructing concrete test specimens, artificially inducing and monitoring corrosion, and periodically performing multisensor NDE inspections and three-dimensional (3-D) imaging.

The objective of the Load and Resistance Factor Rating (LRFR) Procedures for Response-Based Rapid Load Rating of Steel Bridges project was to develop procedures and tools (hardware, software, algorithms, and equations) for converting field strain measurements into load rating for bridges that have calculated load ratings requiring them to be posted. The objective was to improve existing ratings of deficient steel bridges to benefit from field measurements representing the actual bridge response to actual bridge loads, and from Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD)/LRFR reliability theory. This response-based approach expedites load testing and rating, and alleviates the expense and logistics of conducting a bridge load test, the need to collect detailed traffic, and the development and execution of a calibrated finite element model and analysis of the bridge.


Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101