Breaking bridges to understand them better

Every year inspection engineers check bridges for corrosion or cracks. But a visual inspection takes up a lot of time. Is there a more efficient way of doing it?

(Photo: TU Delft TV)

According to Assistant Professor Yuguang Yang, there is. He developed an in-depth research method that helps spot places that are vulnerable to cracks.

By dropping tons of force on a section of a real bridge, he is able to mimic what happens when heavy trucks drive on and off the bridge. The impact data is recorded by sensors attached to the bridge. “By doing this, we can monitor existing bridges and obtain information through our sensors. It allows us to better assess the condition of the bridges and helps us determine if the bridge is strong, close to failing or somewhere in between.” Applying sensors to all bridges and monitoring them 24/7 can eventually save money and time for both engineers and motorists.

TU Delft TV shot a short documentary on Yang’s research. Brace for impact: