A BAM employee holds a reader device over sensors that are built into a steel grid for a concrete casing.

RFID sensors can be read wirelessly, as this prototype inside a reinforced steel casing shows.

Source: BAM

At the 2017 Hanover Messe, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) will be showing how in the future new sensors can greatly improve structural health monitoring of bridges and other structures. This is an example of BAM’s research power in the focus area ‘Analytical Sciences’.

Could bridges and structures be "talking" to us in future? They certainly would have a lot to say: how much moisture is there in reinforced concrete components, what is the temperature and what kind of repair is needed to offset corrosion damage? This is important information for the focused use of resources and to keep the infrastructure in good operating condition.

BAM scientists are working at improving technical monitoring of infrastructure facilities to make them better and more reliable in future. Building components can "talk" in the figurative sense using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) sensors. By permanently embedding sensors in reinforced concrete components, corrosive damage and the necessary repairs can be determined more quickly and cost-effectively.

No batteries thanks to RFID

RFID technology has the advantage that not only can it transmit data but energy as well. The measurements and outputs from the sensors are carried out exclusively using the electromagnetic field energy generated by the electronic reader. This is a prerequisite for the functioning of the technology since an embedded battery cannot be easily replaced once it has run dry.

“Such permanently embedded sensors can be retained in the building elements over the entire service life of the structure“, says project manager Dr. Matthias Bartholmai. “RFID sensors can measure parameters such as moisture content, temperature or corrosion indicators and can transfer them to the controller’s hand-held reader.“

Easily read measurement data from travelling cars

A team headed by Matthias Bartholmai are investigating the integration of sensors into bridges in the project "Communicating sensor systems for structural health monitoring and environmental monitoring" (KonSens). BAM researchers are also checking to see if measuring instruments placed in a travelling car can obtain data read outs from the sensors. This would enable controllers to perform their jobs without interfering with road traffic.

BAM at the Hannover Messe 2017

BAM’s stand in Research & Technology Hall 2 Stand A02 provides visitors with a broad insight into the KonSens project.

About BAM

BAM promotes safety in technology and chemistry.
As a BMWi departmental research institute, BAM performs research, testing and offers advisory support to protect people, the environment and material goods. Its activity in the fields of materials science, materials engineering and chemistry is focussed on the technical safety of products and processes. BAM’s research is directed towards substances, materials, building elements, components and facilities as well as natural and technical systems important for the national economy and relevant to society. It also tests and assesses their safe handling and operation. BAM develops and validates analysis procedures and assessment methods, models and necessary standards and provides science-based services for the German industry in a European and international framework.

Safety creates markets.

BAM sets and represents high standards for safety in technology and chemistry for Germany and its global markets to further develop the successful German quality culture "Made in Germany“.