Monitoring corrosion of rebar embedded in mortar using high-frequency guided ultrasonic waves

Benjamin L. Ervin, Daniel A. Kuchma, Jennifer T. Bernhard, Henrique Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Corrosion of reinforced concrete structures creates serviceability and safety issues, costing millions of dollars for inspection, repair, and rehabilitation. Recent efforts have focused on monitoring corrosion in situ, providing accurate real-time information for decision-making. The goal of this research is the creation of an embeddable ultrasonic sensing network for assessment of reinforcement deterioration. Toward this effort, guided ultrasonic waves were used to monitor reinforced mortar specimens undergoing accelerated uniform and localized corrosion. Longitudinal waves were invoked at higher frequencies (2-9MHz), where the attenuation is a local minimum. Using a through-transmission configuration, waveforms were sensitive to both forms of corrosion damage. Scattering, mode conversions, and reflections from irregularities at the bar surface from uniform corrosion and the severely tapered cross section from localized corrosion are thought to cause the increase in attenuation. Because localized corrosion did not yield a discontinuity that was nearly perpendicular to the bar axis, incident waves were severely scattered, mode converted, and rapidly attenuated. As evidence, this was the inability of pulse-echo testing to detect reflected waveforms for localized corrosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-19
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Corrosion
  • Damage
  • Durability
  • Nondestructive tests
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Ultrasonic methods
  • Wave propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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