Autonomous Measurements of Bridge Pier and Abutment Scour using Motion-Sensing Radio Transmitters, TR-595, 2010

(2010) Autonomous Measurements of Bridge Pier and Abutment Scour using Motion-Sensing Radio Transmitters, TR-595, 2010. Transportation, Department of


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TR-595 Tech Brief.pdf

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Two portable Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) systems (made by Texas Instruments and HiTAG) were developed and tested for bridge scour monitoring by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa (UI). Both systems consist of three similar components: 1) a passive cylindrical transponder of 2.2 cm in length (derived from transmitter/responder); 2) a low frequency reader (~134.2 kHz frequency); and 3) an antenna (of rectangular or hexagonal loop). The Texas Instruments system can only read one smart particle per time, while the HiTAG system was successfully modified here at UI by adding the anti-collision feature. The HiTAG system was equipped with four antennas and could simultaneously detect 1,000s of smart particles located in a close proximity. A computer code was written in C++ at the UI for the HiTAG system to allow simultaneous, multiple readouts of smart particles under different flow conditions. The code is written for the Windows XP operational system which has a user-friendly windows interface that provides detailed information regarding the smart particle that includes: identification number, location (orientation in x,y,z), and the instance the particle was detected.. These systems were examined within the context of this innovative research in order to identify the best suited RFID system for performing autonomous bridge scour monitoring. A comprehensive laboratory study that included 142 experimental runs and limited field testing was performed to test the code and determine the performance of each system in terms of transponder orientation, transponder housing material, maximum antenna-transponder detection distance, minimum inter-particle distance and antenna sweep angle. The two RFID systems capabilities to predict scour depth were also examined using pier models. The findings can be summarized as follows: 1) The first system (Texas Instruments) read one smart particle per time, and its effective read range was about 3ft (~1m). The second system (HiTAG) had similar detection ranges but permitted the addition of an anti-collision system to facilitate the simultaneous identification of multiple smart particles (transponders placed into marbles). Therefore, it was sought that the HiTAG system, with the anti-collision feature (or a system with similar features), would be preferable when compared to a single-read-out system for bridge scour monitoring, as the former could provide repetitive readings at multiple locations, which could help in predicting the scour-hole bathymetry along with maximum scour depth. 2) The HiTAG system provided reliable measures of the scour depth (z-direction) and the locations of the smart particles on the x-y plane within a distance of about 3ft (~1m) from the 4 antennas. A Multiplexer HTM4-I allowed the simultaneous use of four antennas for the HiTAG system. The four Hexagonal Loop antennas permitted the complete identification of the smart particles in an x, y, z orthogonal system as function of time. The HiTAG system can be also used to measure the rate of sediment movement (in kg/s or tones/hr). 3) The maximum detection distance of the antenna did not change significantly for the buried particles compared to the particles tested in the air. Thus, the low frequency RFID systems (~134.2 kHz) are appropriate for monitoring bridge scour because their waves can penetrate water and sand bodies without significant loss of their signal strength. 4) The pier model experiments in a flume with first RFID system showed that the system was able to successfully predict the maximum scour depth when the system was used with a single particle in the vicinity of pier model where scour-hole was expected. The pier model experiments with the second RFID system, performed in a sandbox, showed that system was able to successfully predict the maximum scour depth when two scour balls were used in the vicinity of the pier model where scour-hole was developed. 5) The preliminary field experiments with the second RFID system, at the Raccoon River, IA near the Railroad Bridge (located upstream of 360th street Bridge, near Booneville), showed that the RFID technology is transferable to the field. A practical method would be developed for facilitating the placement of the smart particles within the river bed. This method needs to be straightforward for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and county road working crews so it can be easily implemented at different locations. 6) Since the inception of this project, further research showed that there is significant progress in RFID technology. This includes the availability of waterproof RFID systems with passive or active transponders of detection ranges up to 60 ft (~20 m) within the water–sediment column. These systems do have anti-collision and can facilitate up to 8 powerful antennas which can significantly increase the detection range. Such systems need to be further considered and modified for performing automatic bridge scour monitoring. The knowledge gained from the two systems, including the software, needs to be adapted to the new systems.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Bridges and other structures, Highways, Hydraulics and Hydrology, I24: Design of Bridges and Retaining Walls
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Bridges and tunnels
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Environment > Water
ID Code: 20074
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 07 Jul 2015 12:14
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2018 19:27