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Novel biopolymer treatment for wind induced soil erosion

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It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of

It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of different polymer stabilizers are available on the market for fugitive dust control. Most of these polymer stabilizers are expensive synthetic polymer products. Their adverse effects and expense usually limits their use. Biopolymers provide a potential alternative to synthetic polymers. They can provide dust abatement by encapsulating soil particles and creating a binding network throughout the treated area. This research into the effectiveness of biopolymers for fugitive dust control involved three phases. Phase I included proof of concept tests. Phase II included carrying out the tests in a wind tunnel. Phase III consisted of conducting the experiments in the field. Proof of concept tests showed that biopolymers have the potential to reduce soil erosion and fugitive dust transport. Wind tunnel tests on two candidate biopolymers, xanthan and chitosan, showed that there is a proportional relationship between biopolymer application rates and threshold wind velocities. The wind tunnel tests also showed that xanthan gum is more successful in the field than chitosan. The field tests showed that xanthan gum was effective at controlling soil erosion. However, the chitosan field data was inconsistent with the xanthan data and field data on bare soil.

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2011

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Duration characteristics of the mean horizontal component of shallow crustal earthquake records in active tectonic regions

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The focus of this study is statistical characterization of the significant duration of strong ground motion time histories. The significant duration is defined as the time needed to build up between five and seventy five (SD575) and ninety five

The focus of this study is statistical characterization of the significant duration of strong ground motion time histories. The significant duration is defined as the time needed to build up between five and seventy five (SD575) and ninety five percent (SD595) of the energy of a strong motion record. Energy is measured as the integral of the square of the acceleration time history and can be used to capture the potential destructiveness of an earthquake. Correlations of the geometric means of the two significant duration measures (SD575 and SD595) with source, path, and near surface site parameters have been investigated using the geometric mean of 2,690 pairs of recorded horizontal strong ground motion data from 129 earthquakes in active plate margins. These time histories correspond to moment magnitudes between 4.8 and 7.9, site to source distances up to 200 km, and near surface shear wave velocity ranging from 120 to 2250 m/s. Empirical relationships have been developed based upon the simple functional forms, and observed correlations. The coefficients of the independent variables in these empirical relationships have been determined through nonlinear regression analysis using a random effects model. It is found that significant duration measures correlate well with magnitude, site to source distance, and near surface shear wave velocity. The influence of the depth to top of rupture, depth to the shear wave velocity of 1000 m/s and the style of faulting were not found to be statistically significant. Comparison of the empirical relationship developed in this study with existing empirical relationships for the significant duration shows good agreement at intermediate magnitudes (M 6.5). However, at larger and smaller magnitude, the differences between the correlations developed in this study and those from previous studies are significant.

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2011

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Multi-hazard damage mitigation for low-rise wood-framed structures using a CarbonFlex composite

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This study focused on investigating the ability of a polymeric-enhanced high-tenacity fabric composite called CarbonFlex to mitigate damages from multi-natural hazards, which are earthquakes and tornadoes, in wood-framed structures. Typically, wood-framed shear wall is a seismic protection system used in

This study focused on investigating the ability of a polymeric-enhanced high-tenacity fabric composite called CarbonFlex to mitigate damages from multi-natural hazards, which are earthquakes and tornadoes, in wood-framed structures. Typically, wood-framed shear wall is a seismic protection system used in low-rise wood structures. It is well-known that the main energy dissipation of the system is its fasteners (nails) which are not enough to dissipate energy leading to decreasing of structure's integrity. Moreover, wood shear walls could not sustain their stiffness after experiencing moderate wall drift which made them susceptible to strong aftershocks. Therefore, CarbonFlex shear wall system was proposed to be used in the wood-framed structures. Seven full-size CarbonFlex shear walls and a CarbonFlex wrapped structures were tested. The results were compared to those of conventional wood-framed shear walls and a wood structure. The comparisons indicated that CarbonFlex specimens could sustain their strength and fully recover their initial stiffness although they experienced four percent story drift while the stiffness of the conventional structure dramatically degraded. This indicated that CarbonFlex shear wall systems provided a better seismic protection to wood-framed structures. To evaluate capability of CarbonFlex to resist impact damages from wind-borne debris in tornadoes, several debris impact tests of CarbonFlex and a carbon fiber reinforced storm shelter's wall panels were conducted. The results showed that three CarbonFlex wall panels passed the test at the highest debris impact speed and the other two passed the test at the second highest speed while the carbon fiber panel failed both impact speeds.

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2013

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Embedded resource accounting with applications to water embedded in energy trade in the western U.S

Description

Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water

Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water supplies. One such approach is the substitution of trade in virtual water for the use of local water supplies. This study provides a review of existing work in the use of virtual water and water footprint methods. Virtual water trade has been shown to be a successful method for addressing water scarcity and decreasing overall water consumption by shifting high water consumptive processes to wetter regions. These results however assume that all water resource supplies are equivalent regardless of physical location and they do not tie directly to economic markets. In this study we introduce a new mathematical framework, Embedded Resource Accounting (ERA), which is a synthesis of several different analytical methods presently used to quantify and describe human interactions with the economy and the natural environment. We define the specifics of the ERA framework in a generic context for the analysis of embedded resource trade in a way that links directly with the economics of that trade. Acknowledging the cyclical nature of water and the abundance of actual water resources on Earth, this study addresses fresh water availability within a given region. That is to say, the quantities of fresh water supplies annually available at acceptable quality for anthropogenic uses. The results of this research provide useful tools for water resource managers and policy makers to inform decision making on, (1) reallocation of local available fresh water resources, and (2) strategic supplementation of those resources with outside fresh water resources via the import of virtual water.

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2013

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The development and engineering application of a fiber reinforced hybrid matrix composite for structural retrofitting and damage mitigation

Description

Civil infrastructures are susceptible to damage under the events of natural or manmade disasters. Over the last two decades, the use of emerging engineering materials, such as the fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs), in structural retrofitting have gained significant popularity. However, due

Civil infrastructures are susceptible to damage under the events of natural or manmade disasters. Over the last two decades, the use of emerging engineering materials, such as the fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs), in structural retrofitting have gained significant popularity. However, due to their inherent brittleness and lack of energy dissipation, undesirable failure modes of the FRP-retrofitted systems, such as sudden laminate fracture and debonding, have been frequently observed. In this light, a Carbon-fiber reinforced Hybrid-polymeric Matrix Composite (or CHMC) was developed to provide a superior, yet affordable, solution for infrastructure damage mitigation and protection. The microstructural and micromechanical characteristics of the CHMC was investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and nanoindentation technique. The mechanical performance, such as damping, was identified using free and forced vibration tests. A simplified analytical model based on micromechanics was developed to predict the laminate stiffness using the modulus profile tested by the nanoindentation. The prediction results were verified by the flexural modulus calculated from the vibration tests. The feasibility of using CHMC to retrofit damaged structural systems was investigated via a series of structural component level tests. The effectiveness of using CHMC versus conventional carbon-fiber reinforced epoxy (CF/ epoxy) to retrofit notch damaged steel beams were tested. The comparison of the test results indicated the superior deformation capacity of the CHMC retrofitted beams. The full field strain distributions near the critical notch tip region were experimentally determined by the digital imaging correlation (DIC), and the results matched well with the finite element analysis (FEA) results. In the second series of tests, the application of CHMC was expanded to retrofit the full-scale fatigue-damaged concrete-encased steel (or SRC) girders. Similar to the notched steel beam tests, the CHMC retrofitted SRC girders exhibited substantially better post-peak load ductility than that of CF/ epoxy retrofitted girder. Lastly, a quasi-static push over test on the CHMC retrofitted reinforced concrete shear wall further highlighted the CHMC's capability of enhancing the deformation and energy dissipating potential of the damaged civil infrastructure systems. Analytical and numerical models were developed to assist the retrofitting design using the newly developed CHMC material.

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2013

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Biosensor platform for rapid detection of E. coli in drinking water

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The need for rapid, specific and sensitive assays that provide a detection of bacterial indicators are important for monitoring water quality. Rapid detection using biosensor is a novel approach for microbiological testing applications. Besides, validation of rapid methods

The need for rapid, specific and sensitive assays that provide a detection of bacterial indicators are important for monitoring water quality. Rapid detection using biosensor is a novel approach for microbiological testing applications. Besides, validation of rapid methods is an obstacle in adoption of such new bio-sensing technologies. In this study, the strategy developed is based on using the compound 4-methylumbelliferyl glucuronide (MUG), which is hydrolyzed rapidly by the action of E. coli β-D-glucuronidase (GUD) enzyme to yield a fluorogenic product that can be quantified and directly related to the number of E. coli cells present in water samples. The detection time required for the biosensor response ranged from 30 to 120 minutes, depending on the number of bacteria. The specificity of the MUG based biosensor platform assay for the detection of E. coli was examined by pure cultures of non-target bacterial genera and also non-target substrates. GUD activity was found to be specific for E. coli and no such enzymatic activity was detected in other species. Moreover, the sensitivity of rapid enzymatic assays was investigated and repeatedly determined to be less than 10 E. coli cells per reaction vial concentrated from 100 mL of water samples. The applicability of the method was tested by performing fluorescence assays under pure and mixed bacterial flora in environmental samples. In addition, the procedural QA/QC for routine monitoring of drinking water samples have been validated by comparing the performance of the biosensor platform for the detection of E. coli and culture-based standard techniques such as Membrane Filtration (MF). The results of this study indicated that the fluorescence signals generated in samples using specific substrate molecules can be utilized to develop a bio-sensing platform for the detection of E. coli in drinking water. The procedural QA/QC of the biosensor will provide both industry and regulatory authorities a useful tool for near real-time monitoring of E. coli in drinking water samples. Furthermore, this system can be applied independently or in conjunction with other methods as a part of an array of biochemical assays in order to reliably detect E. coli in water.

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2015

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Development of the project definition rating index (PDRI) for small industrial projects

Description

Project teams expend substantial effort to develop scope definition during the front end planning phase of large, complex projects, but oftentimes neglect to sufficiently plan for small projects. An industry survey administered by the author showed that small projects make

Project teams expend substantial effort to develop scope definition during the front end planning phase of large, complex projects, but oftentimes neglect to sufficiently plan for small projects. An industry survey administered by the author showed that small projects make up 70-90 percent (by count) of all projects in the industrial construction sector, the planning of these project varies greatly, and that a consistent definition of “small industrial project” did not exist. This dissertation summarizes the motivations and efforts to develop a non-proprietary front end planning tool specifically for small industrial projects, namely the Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) for Small Industrial Projects. The author was a member of Construction Industry Institute (CII) Research Team 314, who was tasked with developing the tool in May of 2013. The author, together with the research team, reviewed, scrutinized and adapted an existing industrial-focused FEP tool, the PDRI for Industrial Projects, and other resources to develop a set of 41 specific elements relevant to the planning of small industrial projects. The author supported the facilitation of five separate industry workshops where 65 industry professionals evaluated the element descriptions, and provided element prioritization data that was statistically analyzed and used to develop a weighted score sheet that corresponds to the element descriptions. The tool was tested on 54 completed and in-progress projects, the author’s analysis of which showed that small industrial projects with greater scope definition (based on the tool’s scoring scheme) outperformed projects with lesser scope definition regarding cost performance, schedule performance, change performance, financial performance, and customer satisfaction. Moreover, the author found that users of the tool on in-progress projects overwhelmingly agreed that the tool added value to their projects in a timeframe and manner consistent with their needs, and that they would continue using the tool in the future. The author also developed an index-based selection guide to aid PDRI users in choosing the appropriate tool for use on an industrial project based on distinguishing project size with indicators of project complexity. The final results of the author’s research provide several contributions to the front end planning, small projects, and project complexity bodies of knowledge.

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2015

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Optimization/simulation model for determining real-time optimal operation of river-reservoirs systems during flooding conditions

Description

A model is presented for real-time, river-reservoir operation systems. It epitomizes forward-thinking and efficient approaches to reservoir operations during flooding events. The optimization/simulation includes five major components. The components are a mix of hydrologic and hydraulic

A model is presented for real-time, river-reservoir operation systems. It epitomizes forward-thinking and efficient approaches to reservoir operations during flooding events. The optimization/simulation includes five major components. The components are a mix of hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, short-term rainfall forecasting, and optimization and reservoir operation models. The optimization/simulation model is designed for ultimate accessibility and efficiency. The optimization model uses the meta-heuristic approach, which has the capability to simultaneously search for multiple optimal solutions. The dynamics of the river are simulated by applying an unsteady flow-routing method. The rainfall-runoff simulation uses the National Weather Service NexRad gridded rainfall data, since it provides critical information regarding real storm events. The short-term rainfall-forecasting model utilizes a stochastic method. The reservoir-operation is simulated by a mass-balance approach. The optimization/simulation model offers more possible optimal solutions by using the Genetic Algorithm approach as opposed to traditional gradient methods that can only compute one optimal solution at a time. The optimization/simulation was developed for the 2010 flood event that occurred in the Cumberland River basin in Nashville, Tennessee. It revealed that the reservoir upstream of Nashville was more contained and that an optimal gate release schedule could have significantly decreased the floodwater levels in downtown Nashville. The model is for demonstrative purposes only but is perfectly suitable for real-world application.

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2015

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Analysis of the state of practice and best practices for alternative project delivery methods in the transportation design and construction industry

Description

Alternative Project Delivery Methods (APDMs), namely Design Build (DB) and Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR), grew out of the need to find a more efficient project delivery approach than the traditional Design Bid Build (DBB) form of delivery. After decades

Alternative Project Delivery Methods (APDMs), namely Design Build (DB) and Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR), grew out of the need to find a more efficient project delivery approach than the traditional Design Bid Build (DBB) form of delivery. After decades of extensive APDM use, there have been many studies focused on the use of APDMs and project outcomes. Few of these studies have reached a level of statistical significance to make conclusive observations about APDMs. This research effort completes a comprehensive study for use in the horizontal transportation construction market, providing a better basis for decisions on project delivery method selection, improving understanding of best practices for APDM use, and reporting outcomes from the largest collection of APDM project data to date. The study is the result of an online survey of project owners and design teams from 17 states representing 83 projects nationally. Project data collected represents almost six billion US dollars. The study performs an analysis of the transportation APDM market and answers questions dealing with national APDM usage, motivators for APDM selection, the relation of APDM to pre-construction services, and the use of industry best practices. Top motivators for delivery method selection: the project schedule or the urgency of the project, the ability to predict and control cost, and finding the best method to allocate risk, as well as other factors were identified and analyzed. Analysis of project data was used to compare to commonly held assumptions about the project delivery methods, confirming some assumptions and refuting others. Project data showed that APDM projects had the lowest overall cost growth. DB projects had higher schedule growth. CMAR projects had low design schedule growth but high construction schedule growth. DBB showed very little schedule growth and the highest cost growth of the delivery methods studied. Best practices in project delivery were studied: team alignment, front end planning, and risk assessment were identified as practices most critical to project success. The study contributes and improves on existing research on APDM project selection and outcomes and fills many of the gaps in research identified by previous research efforts and industry leaders.

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Date Created
2014

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Integrating sustainability grand challenges and active, experiential learning into undergraduate engineering education

Description

Engineering education can provide students with the tools to address complex, multidisciplinary grand challenge problems in sustainable and global contexts. However, engineering education faces several challenges, including low diversity percentages, high attrition rates, and the need to better engage and

Engineering education can provide students with the tools to address complex, multidisciplinary grand challenge problems in sustainable and global contexts. However, engineering education faces several challenges, including low diversity percentages, high attrition rates, and the need to better engage and prepare students for the role of a modern engineer. These challenges can be addressed by integrating sustainability grand challenges into engineering curriculum.

Two main strategies have emerged for integrating sustainability grand challenges. In the stand-alone course method, engineering programs establish one or two distinct courses that address sustainability grand challenges in depth. In the module method, engineering programs integrate sustainability grand challenges throughout existing courses. Neither method has been assessed in the literature.

This thesis aimed to develop sustainability modules, to create methods for evaluating the modules’ effectiveness on student cognitive and affective outcomes, to create methods for evaluating students’ cumulative sustainability knowledge, and to evaluate the stand-alone course method to integrate sustainability grand challenges into engineering curricula via active and experiential learning.

The Sustainable Metrics Module for teaching sustainability concepts and engaging and motivating diverse sets of students revealed that the activity portion of the module had the greatest impact on learning outcome retention.

The Game Design Module addressed methods for assessing student mastery of course content with student-developed games indicated that using board game design improved student performance and increased student satisfaction.

Evaluation of senior design capstone projects via novel comprehensive rubric to assess sustainability learned over students’ curriculum revealed that students’ performance is primarily driven by their instructor’s expectations. The rubric provided a universal tool for assessing students’ sustainability knowledge and could also be applied to sustainability-focused projects.

With this in mind, engineering educators should pursue modules that connect sustainability grand challenges to engineering concepts, because student performance improves and students report higher satisfaction. Instructors should utilize pedagogies that engage diverse students and impact concept retention, such as active and experiential learning. When evaluating the impact of sustainability in the curriculum, innovative assessment methods should be employed to understand student mastery and application of course concepts and the impacts that topics and experiences have on student satisfaction.

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Date Created
2015