A PULSED infra red concrete defects detection system was used in the field for the first time near Bristol last week.
Research body BRE is developing the new technique, which uses short bursts of powerful light to raise the temperature of the surface under investigation by as little as 2infinityC.
An ultra sensitive infra-red camera then monitors the surface as it cools. Its images are analysed by computer to detect anomalies.
The test area was installed during the recent strengthening of columns supporting the A38 Gloucester Road flyover in south Gloucestershire.
It was set up to facilitate long term monitoring of the repair system.
South Gloucestershire Council's structural engineer, Parsons Brinckerhoff, decided the central column in each row of three needed additional strengthening for impact resistence.
A column wrapping system from Sika was chosen, and specialist contractor Concrete Repairs Ltd applied five layers of aramid fibre reinforcement to the two central 1.4m diameter columns.
Above the strengthened area on the central columns it also installed a sacrificial band similar to the main reinforcement for long term monitoring.
During last week's test the BRE team detected deliberately inserted flaws plus a 5p coin, a cigarette end and a crumpled tissue hidden within the wrapping.