Nondestructive Evaluation of Reinforced Concrete Slabs Rehabilitated with Glass Fiber-Reinforced Polymers
Wael Zatar, Hai Nguyen, and Hien Nghiem
Appears on pages(s):
FRP, glass, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), infrared thermography (IRT), nondestructive testing, RC slabs, strengthening
Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials provide an excellent alternative for shear, flexure, and confinement retrofitting of deteriorated infrastructure. Despite the advanced technology employed in fabricating FRP materials, the monitoring and quality control of the FRP installation still present a challenge. For externally bonded FRP-rehabilitated structures, the existence of undesirable defects, including surface voids and debonding, on the concrete surface should be evaluated, as these defects would adversely affect the durability and capacity of the FRP-rehabilitated structures. Nondestructive testing has the potential to provide a fast and precise means to assess these FRP rehabilitated structures. This paper presents an experimental and theoretical investigation of the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and infrared tomography (IRT) methods to evaluate reinforced-concrete (RC) slabs externally bonded with glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP). Four externally bonded GFRP RC slab specimens were fabricated. Surface voids, interfacial debonding, and vertical cracks were artificially created on the concrete surface of the RC slabs. Test variables include the location and size of surface voids, interfacial debonding, and diameter of steel reinforcement. Improved two-dimensional and three-dimensional image reconstruction method, using the synthetic aperture focusing technique (SAFT), was established to effectively interpret the GPR test data. The results showed that an in-house developed software, that employed the enhanced image reconstruction technique, provided sharp and high-resolution images of the GFRP-retrofitted RC slabs in comparison to those images obtained from the device’s original software. The data suggests that the GPR testing could effectively be employed to accurately determine the size and location of the artificial voids as well as the spacing of the steel reinforcement. The GPR, however, could not well predict the debonding and concrete cracking, as the GPR signals were corrupted because of the direct wave and coupling effect of the antennae and background noise. Results obtained from the IRT testing showed that this technique can detect and locate near-surface defects including surface voids, interfacial debonding, and cracking with acceptable accuracy. The study suggests the combined use of the GPR and IRT imaging to accurately detect possible internal defects of FRP-rehabilitated concrete structures.