Quantitative Structural Health Monitoring for Damage Detection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The objective of structural health monitoring (SHM) is to embed one or more measurement systems into a structure, such as an aeroplane or bridge, that can provide information on the current condition of the structure while it is in service. In this proposal the emphasis is on systems to detect localised damage to a structure, whether due to degradation (e.g. fatigue, corrosion) or unexpected external events (e.g. impacts). The alternative to SHM is to detect such damage using non-destructive evaluation (NDE) techniques that usually require a sensor to be scanned over the structure. The attraction for SHM over NDE is the reduction in inspection cost and the structural 'down-time' associated with inspection. However, for an SHM system to supersede an NDE procedure it is necessary for the SHM system to be able to demonstrate quantifiably equal or superior performance in terms of sensitivity to damage at all locations of interest. A key reason why SHM systems for damage detection have not progressed from research laboratories into industry is because the issue of quantifiable performance has not been satisfactorily addressed. The need to have quantifiable performance underpins all the work proposed in this Fellowship application. Two sub-projects are defined that will lead to an integrated SHM system that uses guided acoustic waves in both active and passive modalities for damage detection. A third sub-project addresses the key issue of providing a generalised performance calibration strategy that is applicable to both active and passive detection. The overall goal of the Fellowship is to provide the scientific way forward that will enable SHM systems for damage detection to make the transition from laboratory to industry.


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Michaels JE (2013) Chirp excitation of ultrasonic guided waves. in Ultrasonics

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Wilcox PD (2010) Scattering of plane guided waves obliquely incident on a straight feature with uniform cross-section. in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

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Flynn E (2011) Maximum-likelihood estimation of damage location in guided-wave structural health monitoring in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

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Croxford A (2007) Strategies for guided-wave structural health monitoring in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

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Zhong C (2015) Remote inspection system for impact damage in large composite structure in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

Description Fellowship enabled the PI to establish himself as an internationally-leading expert in guided-wave-based structural health monitoring. Key scientific papers address the fundamental issues of transduction, the mitigation of environmental effects, signal processing, calibration, damage detection and localisation. The work has underpinned multiple follow-on projects and led in part to the formation of the spin-out company, Inductosense, that manufactures wireless ultrasonic sensors for structural health monitoring.
Exploitation Route Frameworks for objectively characterising SHM system performance (e.g. damage detection capability) have been proposed and are used by others. The methods for mitigating environmental effects have been published and are widely cited, from which we infer that they are being used by others.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Findings from this work partly underpin our spin-out company, Inductosense (www.inductosense.com), who make wireless ultrasonic sensors that can be embedded within structures. When used as guided wave sensors for large-area coverage, our findings on mitigating environmental effects through robust baseline subtraction algorithms are exploited. To facilitate low-voltage, intrinsically-safe, rapid operation Inductosense instruments use special chirp signals of the type outlined in a paper resulting from this project. Inductosense has 8 employees and is currently recruiting for several more.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic

Company Name Inductosense 
Description Spin out company to develop, manufacture and sell inductively-coupled ultrasonic sensors for wireless NDE applications. 
Year Established 2016 
Impact Won ~£500,000 iCure grant to develop business.
Website http://www.inductosense.com
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The wireless, inductively-coupled, Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) sensors now being commercialised by our spin-out company, Inductosense Ltd., formed one of 3 exhibits on the stand "the hidden world of ultrasound" at the 2014 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2014/ultrasonic-waves/