[Researcher of the Month] Lengthening the Service Lifespan of Building Structures
Professor Lee Han-seung (Major in Architectural Engineering)
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The paradigm of architecture is changing. The construction market used to focus on efficiency and speed, but the modern era values structures with high durability and long lifespans. Professor Lee Han-seung (Major in Architectural Engineering) developed the Durability Health Monitoring System, which collects information on the state of the corrosion of iron and whether chlorine ion and carbon dioxide have penetrated through a sensor installed inside concrete structures. This is groundbreaking technology that was published in the prestigious science journal Advanced Materials on April 15th, 2019, titled "A Colorimetric Multifunctional Sensing Method for Structural-Durability-Health Monitoring Systems."
Lee majored in architecture materials and construction in the department of Architectural Engineering, and his main research interest is concrete materials. He is the director of the Innovative Durable Building and Infrastructure Research Center, created as part of the Engineering Research Center (ERC) business to develop material, construction, monitoring, and maintenance technology to enhance the durability of structures. Fourteen professors from eight universities are working together to focus on their research into four major topics: durability diagnosis monitoring sensors, durability design, protection and repair construction methods, and a maintenance and asset value comprehensive evaluation system.
Concrete, which is most often the preferred material in construction projects, deteriorates when it comes into contact with chlorine ion or when the substance gradually permeates through the hardened surface. In a ferroconcrete structure, the iron will rust once chlorine ion infiltrates. And once chlorine ion pervades, the iron expands, and the concrete is destroyed. This phenomenon equals the end of the lifespan of the concrete structure. Lee wanted to be able to gauge how much chlorine ion has penetrated a structure, which would require monitoring technology with a sensor.
His research team developed the Durability Health Monitoring System, which tells through wireless communication modules whether iron is corroded or chlorine ion and carbon dioxide have seeped through. A thin film type sensor is buried in the concrete infrastructure beforehand, in order to activate the durability monitoring system. The infiltration of carbon dioxide and chlorine ion inside a concrete structure is a tantalizing the problem, but Lee developed a sensor using optics. His solution was to prevent it from reaching the iron inside the concrete, through the use of the Durability Health Monitoring System.
Structures built 30 to 40 years ago need to have their durability diagnosed and maintenance needs assessed, just as humans are obligated to undergo health check-ups at similar ages. There are two ways of monitoring a structure's health. One is to execute structural heath monitoring, in the way a seismometer warns of the danger of earthquake through vibrations. Another is to increase usage by making it convenient to use its waterproof system, air conditioning and heating, electricity and more.
Lee emphasized the importance of fusion research and incorporating Fourth Industrial Revolution technology with architectural engineering. He applied optical science when he put sensors on optical fibers to recognize the intensity when either carbon dioxide or chlorine ion has entered, in real time, by looking at the change of colors.
“Securing durability is also eco-friendly," said Lee, when pointing out that long lifespans of structures decreases co2 and prevents the exhaustion of resources. He stressed that a structure that can stand longer is more beneficial financially, and in the life cycle perspective.
Kim Hyun-soo firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Hyeon-seon
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