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Environmental Durability of an Optical Fiber Cable Intended for Distributed Strain Measurements in Concrete Structures

  • alj;, ismail
Publication Date
Dec 26, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/s22010141
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The present study investigates the environmental durability of a distributed optical fiber sensing (DOFS) cable on the market, commonly used for distributed strain measurements in reinforced concrete structures. An extensive experimental program was conducted on different types of specimens (including samples of bare DOFS cable and plain concrete specimens instrumented with this DOFS cable) that were exposed to accelerated and natural ageing (NA) conditions for different periods of up to 18 months. The instrumentation of both concrete specimens consisted of DOFS cables embedded at the center of the specimens and bonded at the concrete surface, as these two configurations are commonly deployed in the field. In these configurations, the alkalinity of the surrounding cement medium and the outdoor conditions are the main factors potentially affecting the characteristics of the DOFS component materials and the integrity of the various interfaces, and hence impacting the strain transfer process between the host structure and the core optical fiber (OF). Therefore, immersion in an alkaline solution at an elevated temperature or freeze/thaw (F/T) and immersion/drying (I/D) cycles were chosen as accelerated ageing conditions, depending on the considered configuration. Mechanical characterizations by tensile and pull-out tests were then carried out on the exposed specimens to assess the evolution of the mechanical properties of individual component materials as well as the evolution of bond properties at various interfaces (internal interfaces of the DOFS cable, and interface between the cable and the host structure) during ageing. Complementary physico-chemical characterizations were also performed to better understand the underlying degradation processes. The experimental results highlight that immersion in the alkaline solution induced a significant and rapid decrease in the bond properties at internal interfaces of the DOFS cable and at the cable/concrete interface (in the case of the embedded cable configuration), which was assigned to chemical degradation at the surface of the cable coating in contact with the solution (hydrolysis and thermal degradation of the EVA copolymer component). Meanwhile, F/T and I/D cycles showed more limited effects on the mechanical properties of the component materials and interfaces in the case of the bonded cable configuration. A comparison with the same specimens exposed to outdoor NA suggested that the chosen accelerated ageing conditions may not be totally representative of actual service conditions, but provided indications for improving the ageing protocols in future research. In the last part, an analysis of the distributed strain profiles collected during pull-out tests on instrumented concrete specimens clearly illustrated the consequences of ageing processes on the strain response of the DOFS cable.

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