Research Activities: 2006

Optimization of Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducers (EMATs) for Condition Assessment of Civil Infrastructure


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Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Research Board, University of Missouri


Principal Investigator

Glenn Washer
Assistant Professor
University of Missouri-Columbia
2503 Lafferre Hall
Columbia, MO 65211-2200

p(573) 884-0320
f(573) 882-4784

Student Involvement

The project will involve one graduate students working on modeling and experimental design for electromagnetic sensors. One undergraduate research assistants will also participate in the project, assisting in laboratory testing and sensor manufacturing.


Project Objectives

The goal of the proposed project is to develop improved sensor designs for magnetostrictive Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducers for the condition assessment of bridges.


Project Abstract

Concrete is a primary construction material for infrastructure in the United States. The ability to effectively assess the condition of concrete structures during their service life is critically important to maintaining the safety and efficiency of our infrastructure. Corrosion of reinforcing steel bars and strands that are embedded in the concrete is a primary deterioration mode for structures across the spectrum of the civil infrastructure. The Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) technology to be developed under the proposed project can help address the need for improved condition assessment tools, by allowing a concrete structure to be built with an embedded acoustic sensor network. The embedded sensors will be capable of detecting corrosion, cracking in concrete, and fracture of embedded steel such as reinforcing steel and prestressing strand. This technology will lead to a "smart bridge" that has an embedded sensor network that is analogous to the nervous system in the human body, detecting deterioration in its embryonic stages such that mitigation methods can be employed. The goal of the proposed project is to develop improved sensor designs for magnetostrictive EMATs that will overcome limitations in the current sensors designs, allowing for the sensors to be embedded in concrete. The improved design and design models to be developed under this project will broaden the scope of application for this unique sensor technology for the condition assessment of bridges and other civil structures.


Anticipated Benefits

The anticipated benefits of the system include

  • New EMAT designs with the ability to detect and quantify corrosion of steel bars and strands embedded in concrete
  • Improved sensor designs that will broaden the potential applications for EMAT technology
  • Increased reliability and safety of highway bridges

Modal Orientation

Bridge Assessment



Project Start Date:

September 1, 2006

Project End Date:February 28, 2008

Relationship to other Research/Projects

The proposed project is part of a developing program to design and implement targeted health monitoring schemes for highway bridges.


Technology Transfer Activities

Technology transfer activities will include publication of research results in archival journals and inclusion of research results in undergraduate and graduate curriculum at UMC being developed in the area of NDE.


Transportation Research Board Keywords

Bridges, ultrasonic testing, EMAT, magnetic methods, corrosion