Structures lab fulfills private, public needs
It all comes down to bridging a gap.
Photo by Eric Landwehr
Graduate student Todd Pauly adjusts the instrumentation on the column as part of testing to determine whether self-consolidating concrete columns can be used in areas where earthquakes occur.
The J. Lohr Structures Laboratory helps companies develop new materials and products—self-consolidating concrete columns and pre-stress concrete bridge girders-- that bridge a physical gap. Many of those newly developed products are used in public works projects funded by federal, state and local governments, thus bridging a commercial gap.
The lab is the only facility of its kind in South Dakota, according to Nadim Wehbe, head of the South Dakota State University Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Wehbe, who coordinated the lab’s development, has been recognized as a leader in the field, recently being named a fellow of both the Structural Engineering Institute and the American Concrete Institute.
Over the last decade, researchers have conducted structural testing on large- and full-scale test specimens for private companies and government entities. As one of eight universities in the Mountain-Plains Consortium Transportation Center Program, SDSU civil engineering faculty and graduate students work on solutions to transportation-related problems and evaluate structures that may be more cost-effective and durable.
Testing composite structures
The Vulcraft/Verco Group of Norfolk, Neb., a division of Nucor Corporation, has used the lab to research a wide range of steel joists, steel decks and cold-formed wall assemblies.
For a Nucor-funded project in fall 2008, structures lab graduate students and staff built cold-formed steel walls and a 20-foot steel joist floor, tested the structure and demolished it, all within a week, explained lab manager Zachary Gutzmer. This process was repeated for seven floor-and-wall setups.
The project’s goal was to determine how the type and placement of joists affected wall loading. The floor was loaded using an actuator, and strain gauges collected data on wall stress and its effect on building components.
Since then, Nucor has sponsored four research projects investigating various facets of concrete/cold-formed steel composite building components.
“Having a structures lab close by allows our engineers to view more of the testing and reduces our transportation costs,” explained Dave Samuelson, structural research engineer for new products and market development at Vulcraft/Verco Group.
“Nucor’s research partnership with SDSU during the past five years has allowed us to develop a greater understanding of the behavior of our new composite floor system,” Samuelson said. “Our partnership with SDSU has been a win-win situation.”
Evaluating bridge materials
Research at the structure lab also helps South Dakota companies develop transportation products, such as bridge girders, that are then used for public works projects.
In 2006, the lab evaluated the performance of six 40-foot prestressed concrete bridge girders, each weighing 18 tons. The research project was funded by the South Dakota Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Mountain Plains-Consortium and investigated the performance of self-consolidating concrete. Two precast concrete producers, Gage Brothers of Sioux Falls and Cretex of Rapid City, donated the girders made of coarse aggregates from their respective areas of the state.
Self-consolidating concrete, also known as self-leveling or self-compacting, does not require the use of a mechanical vibrator to distribute the concrete evenly. Tests showed that the self-consolidating girders performed equal to or better than conventional concrete girders, according to Wehbe. This research enabled the two companies to produce a new product which they could then sell to construct bridges on the state’s highways.
“We can combine both public and private interests into one project by engaging industry with vested interest in the research being done.” Wehbe said.
Collin Moriarty, engineering manager at Gage Brothers, says this coordinated effort provides local governments with better, more cost-effective structures.
Withstanding earthquakes, crashes
For a 2013 Mountain-Plains Consortium project, graduate student Todd Pauly determined that bridge columns made of self-consolidating concrete can be used in regions which experience earthquakes.
Last fall, graduate student Brett Tigges began evaluating the effectiveness of a concrete wall poured between two bridge columns in preventing bridge failure that might occur if a semi-truck crashed at high speed into the bridge column.
“This lab is a tremendous resource for hands-on research,” said Wehbe.
Through its collaboration with private and public entities, the work done at the structures lab will continue to improve the quality of buildings and bridges.
About the J. Lohr Structures Lab
Established in 2004, J. Lohr Structures Lab the facility has a 34-foot high bay space that is 90 feet long and 39 feet wide with a 4-foot thick reinforced concrete floor to accommodate large- and full-scale test specimens. The lab does research for private companies and government entities and is one of eight universities in the Mountain-Plains Consortium Transportation Center Program. For more information, contact lab manager Zachary Gutzmer at Zachary.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (605) 688-4999 or the SDSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at (605) 688-5427.
About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from eight different colleges representing more than 175 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 29 master’s degree programs, 13 Ph.D. and two professional programs.
The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Cooperative Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.
Nadim Wehbe | newswise
Brilliant decorative solid-state thin films for metallic coverings and facades
21.09.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Smarter window materials can control light and energy
23.07.2015 | University of Texas at Austin
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.
Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...
Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.
Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...
When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.
To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...
Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...
01.10.2015 | Event News
30.09.2015 | Event News
17.09.2015 | Event News
02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering
02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences
02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News