Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mimicking fish and tailoring radar to warn of bridge peril

01.09.2010
Floods cut down more bridges than fire, wind, earthquakes, deterioration, overloads and collisions combined, costing lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

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!
Further information:
http://www.case.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Smart Manual Workstations Deliver More Flexible Production
04.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>