The speed and turbulence of an overflowing stream scours away the river bottom that provides the support for a bridge foundation, causing more than 60 percent of bridge failures in the U.S. in the last 30 years.
Currently, "there is no way to determine risk during these crucial events," said Xiong "Bill" Yu, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the Case School of Engineering.
To change that, Yu has begun designing what he calls smart infrastructure: underwater sensors that relay real-time information about how much river bottom has been stripped away and how stable, or unstable, the supports of a bridge remain. His work is being funded by a $450,001 CAREER grant received from the National Science Foundation in 2009.
"We don't fully understand how scouring takes place," Yu said. Water passing a bridge support forms vortices, which erode the river bottom. But how and at what rate scour occurs is complex. River bottoms usually consist of sand, clay, shale or sandstone or a mix, and each material acts a little differently in a strong current, he explained.
To characterize each vortex, Yu's lab is building flow sensors based on tiny, hair-like sensors that salmon have on the sides of their bodies. Researchers have found the fish determine flow direction by the direction the hairy cells move and speed by the time delay as turbulence passes different sensors. Yu's lab built sensors comprised of micro pillars made with piezoelectric fibers mounted on flexible copper rods. The fibers produce electric signals reflecting flow direction and speed. These have proven sensitive and accurate; the lab is now developing arrays for real-time flow and turbulence sensing.
To determine the amount of sediments being scoured away, his lab has built sensors that constantly measure the topography where the water meets the river bottom around the bridge supports. These sensors employ a technology called time domain reflectometry, in which radar is fired along waveguides installed at critical ground locations. The electromagnetic waves return at different speeds depending on the materials they strike and distance traveled. The waves are analyzed with an algorithm developed by Yu's lab to reveal minute changes in the depth and density of the substrate sediments.
The sensors proved durable, sensitive and accurate when tested on bridge supports 10-20 feet below the surface. The next step is to determine the maximum depth and flow conditions under which the sensors provide accurate and immediate information.
Yu's lab is also investigating sensors that can monitor the stability of the bridge structure itself.
The package of sensors will provide warnings not currently available and enable Yu's lab to develop computational scouring models and effective scouring countermeasures.
Kevin Mayhood | EurekAlert!
Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University
New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research