North Carolina A&T State University has developed a technology that could have possibly prevented the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Mannur Sundaresan, professor of mechanical engineering, has developed a single channel continuous sensor that has the potential to detect and locate early crack growth in structures, thereby providing timely information to prevent catastrophic failures. This single channel continuous sensor can detect the leading edge of the acoustic emission event, occurring anywhere in the region covered by the sensor.
Essentially, the technology involves using commercially available sensors deployed in a unique configuration to acoustically monitor structural integrity to remotely detect and address standard flaws via acoustic emission signals.
According to Sundaresan the technology operates like the body's nervous system. "If you're hurt, the nervous system lets you know right away. That doesn't happen with a structure. An inspector has to go look. With small cracks, it's like finding a needle in a haystack. Small cracks are like cancer. They're usually not noticed until they've grown large enough to cause serious damage. These sensors will detect the growth of cracks in their early stages just as our nervous system alerts us of any injury immediately so that we can take action to limit the damage."
Sundaresan's technology originally funded by the Department of Defense is licensed by UTEK Corporation.
"This is technology that could potentially save lives," says Dr. N. Radhakrishan, vice chancellor for research and economic development and a civil engineer. "It is applicable to all structures and equipment which need to monitor and measure metal fatigue cracks and crack propagation. Our research faculty at A&T is among the best in the world. Dr. Sundaresan is an internationally recognized authority on structural health monitoring."
Sundaresan holds two patents for the Acoustic Emission Sensoring Technology and has one patent pending.
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