Semi-continuous ultrasonic sounding and changes of ultrasonic signal characteristics as a sensitive tool for the evaluation of ongoing microstructural changes of experimental mortar bars tested for their ASR potential

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Abstract

Semi-continuous ultrasonic sounding of experimental mortar bars used in the accelerated alkali silica reactivity laboratory test (ASTM C1260) is proposed as a supplementary measurement technique providing data that are highly sensitive to minor changes in the microstructure of hardening/deteriorating concrete mixture. A newly designed, patent pending, heating chamber was constructed allowing ultrasonic sounding of mortar bars, stored in accelerating solution without necessity to remove the test specimens from the bath during the measurement. Subsequent automatic data analysis of recorded ultrasonic signals proved their high correlation to the measured length changes (expansion) and their high sensitivity to microstructural changes. The changes of P-wave velocity, and of the energy, amplitude, and frequency of ultrasonic signal, were in the range of 10–80%, compared to 0.51% change of the length. Results presented in this study thus show that ultrasonic sounding seems to be more sensitive to microstructural changes due to ongoing deterioration of concrete microstructure by alkali–silica reaction than the dimensional changes.

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