KU researchers strengthen American dams, leve

KU researchers strengthen American dams, leve
Developing repairs and retrofits for concrete dams

impression: View of the University of Kansas West Campus Structural Tests Facility.
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Credit score: Courtesy Caroline Bennett

LAWRENCE — A team of scientists at the University of Kansas School of Engineering has partnered with U.S. federal agencies in a push to boost American dams and levees nationwide applying fiber-reinforced polymers, sensors, artificial intelligence and drones.

The $7.7 million, 5-yr task is a partnership concerning KU, the U.S. Military Engineer Exploration and Progress Heart (ERDC), the Section of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers.

Work at KU is headed by Caroline Bennett, Dean R. and Florence W. Frisbie Affiliate Chair of Graduate Scientific studies, Glenn L. Parker College Fellow and professor of civil, environmental & architectural engineering.

“The job focuses on establishing repairs and retrofits for the inventory of concrete dams in the U.S., with an emphasis on efficient damage detection,” Bennett explained. “In addition to mend procedures, we’ll be applying fiber-strengthened polymer materials, or FRPs, to deal with harm. Particularly, we’re targeting sliding at raise joints, restraining rocking concerning crest block and dam physique through seismic loading, and harm on concrete spillways of dams. Our purpose is to lengthen the usable life of existing concrete dam infrastructure, which was generally constructed in the 1930s and 1940s.”

These New Deal-era dams and levees are not just exhibiting their age a number of have knowledgeable catastrophic failures in current several years thanks to disrepair. In 2005, New Orleans’ levees were breached with disastrous results through Hurricane Katrina, whilst levees in South Carolina ended up breached all through Hurricane Matthew in 2016. A year later, relentless rain triggered the Oroville Dam in California to fail. Just one recent evaluation concluded the nation’s dams and levees will need $93.6 billion in updates.

Just before repairs are made, dams and levees need to be assessed for repairs. KU researchers are producing new techniques for dam and levee hurt-detection, which typically essential people today dangling from ropes. Their method will count on artificial intelligence, according to co-key investigator Jian Li, Francis M. Thomas Chair’s Council Affiliate Professor of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at KU, who will guide much of that function.

“My most important position is focused on using deep studying and computer eyesight to autonomously recognize the spot and severity of dam problems, such as concrete cracking and spalling, for which FRP fix is necessary,” Li claimed. “Once the repair is carried out, these spots are no longer inspectable. Therefore, we’ll also establish self-sensing FRP repairs to permit continued checking of the repaired locations to be certain extensive-term basic safety. By leveraging rising technologies including synthetic intelligence, computer vision and sophisticated sensing, our investigate will tremendously greatly enhance timely fix, retrofit and maintenance of the nation’s massive inventory of concrete dams.” 

In the meantime, KU school, postdoctoral researchers, graduate college students and undergraduate investigate assistants get the job done to determine suitable fiber-reinforced polymer elements for a exclusive application in concrete gravity dams. This products characterization and massive-scale tests work will choose spot in 3 unique KU laboratories in which enormous hundreds will be used in flexible and direct-shear exams to evaluate the general performance of the FRP repairs: the West Campus Structural Screening Facility, the Uncovered Hall Structural Engineering Testing Laboratory and the Lutz Fracture and Tiredness Laboratory.

Rémy Lequesne, affiliate professor of civil, environmental & architectural engineering, will direct massive-scale experimental tests of simulated joints in concrete dams, both of those with and with out repairs.

“As America’s infrastructure ages, it is critical we grow to be superior at examining whether or not buildings can carry on to serve safely and securely and also produce improved approaches to maintenance and increase the company-lifestyle of constructions,” Lequesne said. “This challenge does just that. We’re building more productive techniques for dam inspection and, by information selection and model improvement, furnishing applications that engineers can use to make selections about whether or not and how to fix present dams. Outcomes will guide to recommendations and new modelling applications that engineers can use for evaluation and design and style of repairs.”

Meantime, investigators at KU will carry out a scholarly assessment of all investigation into FRP products, details that will guide their individual screening of the promising resources. Carbon-fiber elements, light-weight and stronger than steel in energy-to-excess weight ratio, hold opportunity to handle the enormity of fixing and retrofitting a lot of of the 700-in addition dams and similar buildings the USACE operates and maintains.

“These elements normally start out as cloth and are commonly built of a matrix of glass or carbon fiber, alongside with an epoxy or resin product,” Bennett reported. “This exclusive matrix offers the materials good strength-to-fat attributes, resistance to corrosion and the ability to be formed into numerous geometries to match the substrate currently being worked with. As a consequence, FRP resources provide a interesting possibility to generate overlays that stick to the geometry of the structure whilst remaining robust and light-weight.”

According to Bennett, the goal of the perform at KU is to increase American transportation and commerce, as effectively as safeguard nearby communities.

“Our devices of dams and levees is responsible for ensuring we have navigable waterways and that we have reputable drinking water sources for drinking h2o as perfectly,” she stated. “This is massively essential infrastructure. We’re not really making new dams any longer, so it has become vital to manage our present stock of dams from each a security perspective, for drinking drinking water, as nicely as navigability of our waterways. It is incredibly vital to the safe performing of our infrastructure,  from a existence-security standpoint, but also from an financial and transportation standpoint.”

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