Acoustic Emission Monitoring of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Composites with Embedded Sensors for In-Situ Damage Identification

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Piezoelectric sensors can be embedded in carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) for continuous measurement of acoustic emissions (AE) without the sensor being exposed or disrupting hydro- or aerodynamics. Insights into the sensitivity of the embedded sensor are essential for accurate identification of AE sources. Embedded sensors are considered to evoke additional modes of degradation into the composite laminate, accompanied by additional AE. Hence, to monitor CFRPs with embedded sensors, identification of this type of AE is of interest. This study (i) assesses experimentally the performance of embedded sensors for AE measurements, and (ii) investigates AE that emanates from embedded sensor-related degradation. CFRP specimens have been manufactured with and without embedded sensors and tested under four-point bending. AE signals have been recorded by the embedded sensor and two reference surface-bonded sensors. Sensitivity of the embedded sensor has been assessed by comparing centroid frequencies of AE measured using two sizes of embedded sensors. For identification of embedded sensor-induced AE, a hierarchical clustering approach has been implemented based on waveform similarity. It has been confirmed that both types of embedded sensors (7 mm and 20 mm diameter) can measure AE during specimen degradation and final failure. The 7 mm sensor showed higher sensitivity in the 350–450 kHz frequency range. The 20 mm sensor and the reference surface-bounded sensors predominately featured high sensitivity in ranges of 200–300 kHz and 150–350 kHz, respectively. The clustering procedure revealed a type of AE that seems unique to the region of the embedded sensor when under combined in-plane tension and out-of-plane shear stress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6926
Number of pages19
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • structural health monitoring
  • acoustic emissions
  • piezoelectric wafer active sensor
  • embedded sensors
  • carbon fibre reinforced plastic
  • waveform similarity


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