Automated Scour Detection Arrays using Bio-Inspired Magnetostrictive Flow Sensors

This proposal presents a novel approach for scour detection using automated remote flow detection arrays based on bio-inspired magnetostrictive flow sensors. Whisker-shaped sensors made of Galfenol have previously been demonstrated to be effective flow sensors through the inherently large coupling that exists between stress and magnetic field within this material. As fluid flow causes the whisker to bend, the internal magnetic dipoles realign resulting in a measurable change in magnetic field at the base of the whisker. These sensors are inexpensive and robust. This project will employ these sensors to detect scour around bridge piers, abutments and culverts by deploying arrays of these sensors around critical areas of these structures. Whiskers that are free to move in the water will return dynamic signals; whiskers trapped by sediment will return static signals. By interrogating the state of the array, a map of the channel bed can be inferred and communicated to a remote user via a cellular data link and a web client. The relative simplicity of the data interrogation required (static versus dynamic signals) contributes to the robustness of the system. Wireless "smart scour-sensing posts" are proposed as modular installations of multiple flow transducers coupled with data acquisition electronics for use at abutments, culverts, and for bank stability monitoring. A decision support framework to provide useful information to bridge owners, not just raw data, is an integral part of the project. The project team will solicit input from state department of transportation (DOTs) agencies to define the requirements for the completed scour detection sensor installations, representation of information, and alert criteria. A robust program of validation is proposed to define the limits of the approach both in the laboratory and the field. Technical challenges such as corrosion protection signal classification, sensor fault detection, installation, and data and information flow and representation will be explored.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $798548.00
  • Contract Numbers:


    Project 33749

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Singh, Caesar

  • Performing Organizations:

    Michigan Technological University, Houghton

    1400 Townsend Drive
    Houghton, MI  United States  49931
  • Principal Investigators:

    Swartz, R. Andrew

  • Start Date: 20121101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20150630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33749

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01566531
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: RITARS-12-H-MTU, Project 33749
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 17 2015 1:00AM