Structural integration of fibre optic sensing systems represents a new branch of engineering. It involves the unique marriage of fibre optics, optoelectronics and composite material science to monitor a wide range of structure.
CSIC is using a distributed fibre optic strain/temperature measurement system to enable performance-based design, construction monitoring and structural health monitoring.
- developing robust FO procedures, technical solutions and running training courses
- developing Best Practice Guides
- deploying novel technologies on real site demonstration projects
- inputting to standards such as ASTM standards F3079-14 and F3092-14
- developing a small and inexpensive FO analyser targeting the requirements of the construction industry
CSIC is unsurpassed in its development of emerging and innovative sensor technologies and CSIC spin-out, UtterBerry, is delivering an effective solution to real engineering challenges.
The multi award-winning UtterBerry wireless sensors, devised and developed by CSIC PhD student, Heba Bevan, will “revolutionise civil engineering instrumentation and monitoring, rendering the task easier to perform, with better measurement precision, and yielding dependable results in real time” according to judges at the Constructing Excellence Awards 2015.
The miniature wireless sensor developed for civil engineering instrumentation and monitoring:
- makes monitoring closed or inaccessible areas and structures easier to perform
- offers impressive measurement precision and dependable results in real time
- combines nearly zero-power electronics, a powerful microprocessor, artificial intelligence and wireless communications
- weighs 15 grams and is about the size of a small box of matches.
CSattAR monitoring system, developed by CSIC’s Mehdi Alhaddad, processes images captured at a specified frequency for the duration of the monitoring.
This technology, successfully deployed at London Underground to monitor a live tunnel, allows engineers to record extremely precise movements and monitor numerous points along the tunnel section resulting in additional valuable data for asset owners and managers. Engineers also have immediate access to the structure’s visual condition at a fraction of the cost compared to the conventional alternatives.
For many projects, a considerable amount of construction costs is spent on the required monitoring of assets affected by the new construction. This innovative monitoring system:
- has the potential to reduce the costs of monitoring
- provides additional information which could enable more effective asset management
- has the potential to provide further confidence and understanding to asset owners and managers
Wireless sensor networks
Future monitoring systems will undoubtedly comprise WSN as part of the ‘internet of things’ and will be designed around the capabilities of autonomous nodes. Each node in the network will integrate specific sensing capabilities with communication, data processing and power supply.
The use of wireless sensor technology has significant potential benefits for infrastructure monitoring, allowing a rapid deployment due to elimination of cabling. Combined with low power Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors, there is an opportunity for substantial overall cost savings for large scale monitoring.
CSIC is maximising the potential of WSN for infrastructure monitoring by developing:
- a WSN guidance document
- open and standardised WSN networking on heterogeneous sensing platforms
- a cloud based WSN development platform
- a WSN deployment management tool
- a WSN diagnostic tool
- an ultra-low power, highly-optimised WSN movement sensor called Utterberry
- a low power DSP (digital signal processing) based WSN noise monitoring sensor
Mirco Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
MEMS are small integrated devices or systems that combine electrical and mechanical components varying in size from micrometres to millimetres. These can merge the function of computation and communication with sensing and actuation to produce a system of miniature dimensions.
CSIC envisages an integrated MEMS WSN system offering a solution to monitor and control physical and chemical parameters in many civil infrastructure applications.
MEMS sensors offer major advantages over conventional monitoring systems because of:
- their smaller size
- low power consumption
- value for money due to mass production
- extended performance and lifetime
CSIC is developing a new MEM-based strain sensor.
Energy harvesting device
This is the key enabler for the development of a range of WSN-based structural health monitoring solutions where the use of batteries or mains power is either impractical or adds significant cost.
CSIC has developed an innovative vibration-based energy harvesting device at macro and MEMS scales. This device is based on parametric resonance with the following benefits:
- it provides the potential for an increase in harvested power density
- it enables a wider frequency band of operation compared with similar devices excited by direct resonance
CSIC has prototyped a new vibration energy harvester, and launched a new start-up with venture capital investment, 8Power, which features the parametric resonance IP developed by CSIC researchers.
Computer vision tools
CSIC’s innovative computer vision tools aim to replace current visual inspection to detect and monitor anomalies such as cracks, spalling and staining of concrete in construction and maintenance work. The new inspection system will be used for monitoring large-scale infrastructure.
CSIC is developing change detection software, which identifies the regions of changes between multiple images of the same scene taken at different times.
Our computer vision software tools will generate 3D models to be integrated to robotics for semi-automated image capturing.
We also developing a highly-accurate displacement monitoring system to track movements of structures from digital images.
Read more about the deployment of some of these technologies.