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Sensor Could Speed Up Construction Timelines


By Naomi Millán Design & Construction
Purdue University Sensor
Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe

Sensor technology under development at Purdue University may soon make it possible to speed up construction schedules for concrete slab assemblies, according to the university.  

Researchers at the university are working on embedded sensors that can measure the strength of concrete in real time. The sensors send an acoustic wave through the concrete, which provides information about its strength, stiffness, and microstructure, according to head researcher Luna Lu, Purdue’s American Concrete Pavement Association professor of civil engineering.

In traditional construction methods, a sample of the concrete mix is cured and tested for a month to develop a line graph which correlates mix strength with temperatures over time. This tool is then applied to sensor data from the field during construction to determine when a concrete slab is strong enough to continue construction. If the mix has to change at all, the process must be repeated. The sensors under development at Purdue would circumvent that whole process.

The Purdue research team is testing the sensors on the university’s new five-story Engineering and Polytechnic Gateway Complex, which is currently under construction, as well as highways across Indiana.

Naomi Millán is editor of Building Operating Management magazine.

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