Research at The University of Nottingham, UK and Ningbo, China has found Laser scanning isa new and viable structural safety technique to detect the damaging effects of fire on Concrete.
Fire is one of the most serious potential risks to many concrete structures such as bridges, tunnels and buildings.
Concrete is known to be a material with high fire-resistance, capable of retaining its load-bearing capacity; its physical, chemical and mechanical properties do undergo severe modifications when subjected to high temperatures. A significant loss in strength occurs when concrete is heated above 300°C.
A structural safety assessment provides information needed to evaluate the residual bearing capacity and durability of fire-damaged concrete structures. They are also used to propose the appropriate repair methods or to decide if demolition is needed.
There are several conventional on-site and off-site techniques for assessing fire-damaged concrete. Some on-site methods include visual inspections of colour change and physical features whereas off-site methods involve invasive tests such as core drilling or lab-based techniques, however all methods have their merits and drawbacks.
The study investigated the influences of scanning incidence angle and distance on the laser intensity returns. Concrete colour change was also studied. Data was collected and interpreted on unheated and Heated Concrete to establish the baseline condition of the material.
Study experiments were carried out in a controlled laboratory and used two-phase shift terrestrial laser scanners (Leica HDS7000 and FARO Focus 120) to scan the concrete specimens before heating and then after they were cooled again.
The concrete specimens were heated in a furnace to elevated temperatures of up to 1,000°C as the temperature attained is an important factor in assessing fire-damaged concrete.
To assess colour change in the heated concrete, specimen images were captured using the M-Cam attached to the Leica HDS7000 laser scanner. A flatbed scanner (HP Scanjet G2410) was also used to scan heated concrete surfaces and capture images. It is these images that were used for analysis due to their better resolution.
During the experiments, the measurement of the incidence angles for the concrete blocks was found to vary with distance. As the scanning distance increased, the incidence angle decreased and both scanners used showed the same trend.
A comparative analysis of the laser intensity for heated and unheated concrete showed that the recorded intensity values for heated concrete are higher than those of unheated concrete. In fact, the laser intensity values of heated concrete showed a remarkable increase in the concrete exposure temperatures from 250°C to 1,000°C.
The study has also shown that RGB data improves the visual identification of features and provides a rough idea of the concrete condition after a fire. Laser scanners have an advantage in that most of them have either an internal or external camera that can be used to capture concrete images if good resolution can be achieved.