Crack monitoring in concrete under changing environmental conditions

Tentative title of the master thesis

 Crack monitoring in concrete under changing environmental conditions

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Context of the master thesis

Monitoring of concrete quality and degradation allows to perform optimal maintenance of concrete infrastructure, and in doing so, to avoid accidents with potentially dramatic consequences such as the collapse of the Hintze Ribeiro bridge in Portugal in 2001.

Ultrasonic testing of concrete is a proved method to monitor the quality of the concrete. At ULB-BATir, we have developed embedded ultrasonic piezoelectric transducers and a methodology which allows to detect the initiation of cracking in concrete [1]. The method has been applied to laboratory tests in which temperature and humidity are constant. In field applications, this is however not the case, and the environmental conditions may affect the performance of the method


[1] C. Dumoulin, G. Karaiskos, J.Y. Sener, and A. Deraemaeker. On-line monitoring of cracking in concrete structures using embedded piezoelectric transducers. Smart Materials and Structures, 23(11), 2014. 115016


Objectives of the master thesis

The main objective is to study the variability of ultrasonic signals due to changing environmental conditions, and the impact on the performance of the crack detection method. The work consists in performing tests in controlled but changing temperature and humidity conditions on small specimen of undamaged and damaged concrete, and studying the variability of the signals in terms of wave-velocity, amplitude, frequency content. In particular, the student will assess how the performance of the crack monitoring technique developed at BATir [1] is affected by the changing environmental conditions


Arnaud Deraemaeker (



Other contact persons:

Cédric Dumoulin (


Working language


Student profile

Architectural Engineering/Civil Engineering/Mechanical Engineering

Prerequisites/special skills (optional)

The student must have an interest in Structural Dynamics, Cementitious materials and Concrete behavior , basic programming skills in Matlab and an interest in experimental testing.