What if the detection of small faults within the structure of bridges, tunnels, turbines, buildings, etc. could be noted, analyzed and taken care of prior to any damage they may cause? Well, hold on to your hats folks–the winds are changing and new technologies are providing potential to foresee the future.
A simple yet innovative material called Smart Paint is making it easy to detect structural faults through the use of nanotechnology. The paint utilizes recycled fly-ash making the paint incredibly durable and sustainable while combining carbon nanotubes that are capable of carrying electric currents. “When these carbon nanotubes start to bend, the conductivity in them will change and this bending is detected by electrodes within the structure.” [i] The electrical conductivity is affected by the corrosion that is transferred through the electrode array within the paint matrix that is then transferred as data into a remote computer system. [ii] The entire painted surface is then mapped and is capable of further analysis.
This technology can therefore indicate potential faults it the structure that can then be treated before further damage. It could not only save monumental amounts of time and money that is allocated to the assessment of structural integrity through governmental safety guidelines but could also prevent another disaster like the 35W bridge collapse.
[i] “The Cutting Edge News.” The Cutting Edge News – Page One. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. <http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=71926&pageid=28&pagename=Sci-Tech>.
[ii] “Smart paint: Oi! You’ve missed a bit… | The Economist.” The Economist – World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/02/smart-paint>.