Condition Monitoring System for Reinforced Concrete Structures

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Data from HWU sensor located in Dornoch Firth (Scotland)
Data from HWU sensor located in Dornoch Firth (Scotland)

University: Heriot Watt University

Sector(s): Engineering & Manufacturing, Electronics, Sensors & Photonics, Energy & Renewables, Information & Communications Technologies, Materials

About Opportunity:

Premature deterioration of reinforced concrete structures due to corrosion of the steel reinforcements is a world-wide problem, particularly in highway structures subjected to de-icing salt used on roads in winter. In many developed countries, including the UK, around 50% of the construction budget is devoted to repair and maintenance of structures with over 30% of this expenditure on concrete structures.

The ability to monitor water and ionic ingress through the concrete cover-zone can provide an early warning of incipient problems enabling the planning and scheduling of maintenance programmes, hence minimising traffic delays resulting from road/lane closures. The development of integrated monitoring systems for new reinforced concrete structures could also reduce costs by allowing a more rational approach to the assessment of repair options; and, co-ordination and scheduling of inspection and maintenance programmes.

This system provides such data over the lifetime of the structure allowing informed (and often timely) preventative maintenance decisions to be with greater confidence. The system can be self powered (solar etc.) and interrogated remotely using wireless links.

Key Benefits:

  • Informs preventative maintenance schedules
  • Indicates need for remedial action from loss of waterproofing, Ionic/ Moisture ingress etc.
  • Real time measurement of ionic/ water ingress & temperature changes
  • Robust, Low cost embedded sensor - no moving parts
  • Wireless operation - suited to remote/ difficult to access locations


  • Preventative maintenance of concrete structures exposed to moisture and/or salt spray
  • Condition Monitoring of Steel Reinforced Concrete structures

IP Status:

Proof of Concept has been demonstrated and data from the on-going trials at the University marine exposure test-facility located on the Dornoch Firth (Northern Scotland) is available. Technology is available for license on a non-exclusive license basis only.

GB patent pending with supporting know how on sensor design, system operation and software package. White paper published in 2012: McCarter, W. J. et al, ' Influence of different European cements (CEM) on the hydration of cover-zone concrete during the curing and post curing periods', Amer. Soc. Civ. Engrs., J. of Infrastructure Systems.

The University seeks commercial partners with an interest in utilising this patent pending technology within major civil engineering projects, in supporting further technology development or long term evaluation.


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