The neutral axis position (NAP) is a key parameter of a flexural member for structure design and safety evaluation. The accuracy of NAP measurement based on traditional methods does not satisfy the demands of structural performance assessment especially under live traffic loads. In this paper, a new method to determine NAP is developed by using modal macro-strain (MMS). In the proposed method, macro-strain is first measured with long-gauge Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors; then the MMS is generated from the measured macro-strain with Fourier transform; and finally the neutral axis position coefficient (NAPC) is determined from the MMS and the neutral axis depth is calculated with NAPC. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed method, some experiments on FE models, steel beam and reinforced concrete (RC) beam were conducted. From the results, the plane section was first verified with MMS of the first bending mode. Then the results confirmed the high accuracy and stability for assessing NAP. The results also proved that the NAPC was a good indicator of local damage. In summary, with the proposed method, accurate assessment of flexural structures can be facilitated.
Keywords: dynamic macro-strain; long-gauge FBG sensors; modal macro-strain; neutral axis position; structural performance assessment.