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Pulse-Echo Monitoring of Concrete Damage and Spalling During Fire



Monitoring concrete damage and spalling progression in structural members during fire tests (hot conditions) is a central but challenging task, since the high temperatures involved make difficult the implementation of most of the common Non- Destructive evaluation methods. Hence, an advanced ultrasonic technique – Ultrasonic Pulse-Echo (UPE) – was recently adapted for real time survey in fire test, in order to evaluate the material damage during heating. The UPE technique was implemented at the cold (upper) face of concrete slabs (800x800x100 mm) heated at the bottom face according to the Standard Fire and subjected to biaxial compressive membrane loading. Different concretes were tested, with grades ranging from 40 to 60 MPa, with and without different kinds of fibre (monofilament or fibrillated polypropylene, or steel fibres). Furthermore, different load levels were applied, from 0 to 25% of the original compressive strength. During tests, spalling was generally observed in loaded plain concrete (up to 50-60 mm depth), while only slight scaling was experienced on unloaded samples or if polypropylene fibre was added. The method proved to be very effective in recognizing the decay of the Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity (UPV) with temperature and the role played by external loading and fibre type

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