CT scanner will help AGH UST scientists in their studies of building materials

Research into the destructive activity of wood pests

Research into the structure of growth rings in a conifer

A concrete sample during a test

A state of the art CT scanner will serve the scientists from AGH UST’s Faculty of Geology and Geoengineering (WGiG). The researchers will use it to analyse, among other things, the internal structure of building materials and geological formations. The device offers unique spatial resolution on a wide range of scanned materials – from small biological samples to large elements made of metal, concrete or wood.

The cutting-edge equipment manufactured by General Electric (GE V|TOME|X M300), worth PLN 4.5m, will increase the research potential of the staff and students from the Faculty of Mining and Geoengineering (WGiG). The device will find application in testing and research of all kinds of building materials. Apart from assessing the porosity and distribution of individual constituents of materials, CT scanning will be used for the purpose of assessing the quality of tested samples. This, in turn, will enable the research personnel to draw conclusions as to the possible applications of the material in the building industry and the primary sector. CT scanning will be used to research cement-based composites (e.g. concrete), corrosiveness of e.g. steel constructions or damage to wood. Owing to the nature of these materials, observations may be carried out in micro- and nanoscale, using appropriate scanning lamps.

This top class CT scanner housed at the Faculty of Mining and Geoengineering is the only one in Poland to have been equipped with a miniature testing machine to enable tomographic research of materials under mechanical and thermal load (compressive and tensile strength). The set-up comes with a press that allows samples to be cooled to -20°C and heated up to +160°C. The miniature testing machine is controlled by software which enables the control of strain and its rate as well as stress.

The CT scanner, which will enable observations of internal structures of tested materials features unique heads supplied with lamps, which will save the effort of calibrating the device. The software installed on the scanner allows measurements to be taken even on the most inaccessible surfaces of studied components. This opens up a whole host of possibilities, including analysing the porosity of specific materials as well as defect size and cross-sections.

The scanner also provides access to strength simulations. Conducting virtual stress tests will allow the assessment of e.g. impact of discontinuities in tested materials.

The advantages of using computed tomography in studying building materials include elimination of the time-consuming micrography and sample preparation, improved defect detection rate thanks to more virtual cross-sections being available as well as lack of need for destruction of samples. This innovative application will support the design of modern building materials. The detailed insight into materials in nano and microscale will open up new research and cognitive opportunities in many areas of science.