Self-sensing rubber for bridge bearing monitoring

Orfeo, Alessandra and Tubaldi, Enrico and McAlorum, Jack and Perry, Marcus and Ahmadi, Hamid and McDonald, Hazel (2023) Self-sensing rubber for bridge bearing monitoring. Sensors, 23 (6). 3150. ISSN 1424-8220 (

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Elastomeric bearings are widely used in bridges to support the superstructure, to transfer loads to substructures, and to accommodate movements induced by, for example, temperature changes. Bearing mechanical properties affect the bridge’s performance and its response to permanent and variable loadings (e.g., traffic). This paper describes the research carried out at Strathclyde towards the development of smart elastomeric bearings that can be used as a low−cost sensing technology for bridge and/or weigh−in−motion monitoring. An experimental campaign was performed, under laboratory conditions, on various natural rubber (NR) specimens enhanced with different conductive fillers. Each specimen was characterized under loading conditions that replicated in−situ bearings to determine their mechanical and piezoresistive properties. Relatively simple models can be used to describe the relationship between rubber bearing resistivity and deformation changes. Gauge factors (GFs) in the range between 2 and 11 are obtained, depending on the compound and the applied loading. Experiments were also carried out to show that the developed model can be used to predict the state of deformation of the bearings under random loadings of different amplitudes that are characteristic of the passage of traffic over a bridge.