In the first part of 2015, CCEE Faculty received over $5.1 million of research support from state, federal, and international sources to support 33 new projects. This support will enable 29 CCEE faculty members, their teams of graduate, undergraduate and postdoctoral researchers and their collaborators to address a diverse range of problems in the construction, structures, mechanics, geotechnical, transportation, and environmental areas.
Dr. Alex Albert was awarded funding from the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to identify and propose appropriate supplementary fall protection devices for bridge railings. Drs. Murthy Guddati and Shamim Rahman will develop an inexpensive and easy-to-use nondestructive testing method to assess bridge condition and enable foundation reuse, with funding from NCDOT. In a project sponsored by the Alaska Department of Transportation (AKDOT), Drs. Mervyn Kowalsky, James Nau, and Chad Goodnight will predict damage levels in bridges subjected to earthquake motions. Also with AKDOT support, Drs. Kowalsky, Nau and Rudi Seracino will challenge conventional wisdom regarding the damage level that bridges can sustain and still be repaired.
Dr. Mohammad Pour-Ghaz received funding from American Society for Nondestructive Testing to develop sensing-skin technology for rapid detection of cracking in reinforced concrete structures. In a NCDOT-funded project, Drs. Pour-Ghaz and Greg Lucier will develop methods to minimize cracking of concrete overlays. Dr. Abhinav Gupta, Director of NC State’s Center for Nuclear Energy Facilities and Structures, is leading new research on evaluating hazards that compromise plant safety.
In a project sponsored by The Babcock and Wilcox Company, Dr. Tasnim Hassan will develop an advanced material model for steel used in high temperature applications to simulate damage accumulation and failure.
Drs. Brina Montoya and Cassie Castorena will work on NCDOT-funded research to improve the specification for aggregate base course used to support highway pavements. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Montoya will be working with Dr. Matt Evans at Oregon State University to predict the behavior of soils strengthened by microbes. Dr. Montoya was also awarded a project from the Electric Power Research Institute to study the effect of cementation induced by microbes on the behavior of ponded coal ash. With NSF support, Drs. Castorena, Jim Levis, and Wayne Yuan (Biological and Agricultural Engineering) will develop bio-renewable paving binders.
Several new NCDOT sponsored projects address transportation issues. Dr. Nagui Rouphail is leading a project to improve traffic bottleneck analysis. Dr. William Rasdorf is evaluating the impact of freeway and ramp service signage on driver attention and performance. Drs. Williams and Rouphail will develop a tool to quantify the operational impacts of arterial work zones and to assess the benefits of mitigation strategies and signal retiming.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), via the National Transportation Center at the University of Maryland, is funding several new projects. Drs. H. Christopher Frey and Rouphail will develop a new computationally efficient energy and emissions estimation model for heavy duty trucks to be incorporated into a large scale traffic simulation model. Drs. Rouphail and Williams will identify potentially hazardous locations for traffic by using measured vehicle data and model predictions. Drs. George List and Rouphail will continue research aimed at improving the reliability of freight transportation.
Drs. Rouphail and Frey are part of a large multi-institutional team led by the University of Maryland and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s “ARPA-e” program to develop a simulation model of energy used by each person traveling by passenger car, transit bus, and train in the Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC metro areas and a control architecture to reduce personal transportation energy use in this region.
Drs. Morton Barlaz and Levis received support from Procter & Gamble Co. to review the environmental emissions from waste disposed in uncontrolled dumps typically found in developing countries. The Environmental Research and Education Foundation is sponsoring Drs. Barlaz and Joel Ducoste to better understand the phenomena of elevated temperatures within municipal solid waste landfills.
Dr. Emily Berglund received funding from NCSU’s Laboratory for Analytic Science to explore the security of water distribution systems, which are susceptible to both terrorist actions and natural hazards. As part of a new Department of Homeland Security Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, Dr. Casey Dietrich is working with collaborators from the University of Texas at Austin to improve the speed of models for storm-related coastal flooding. Dr. Detlef Knappe received funding from Hazen and Sawyer, via the Water Research Foundation, to study the use of granular activated carbon in drinking water treatment systems to control disinfection byproducts.
In a project funded by the University of North Carolina Research Opportunities Initiative, Drs. Doug Call and Joe DeCarolis, along with collaborators from UNC-Chapel Hill and Eastern Carolina University, will develop and assess the potential of energy extraction from the natural salinity gradients present along the North Carolina coast.
NCDOT is funding Dr. Frey and his team to measure the effect of alternative fuels, engines, emission controls, and operator behavior on the energy use and emissions of diesel passenger rail locomotives. The NCSU’s Center for Human Health and the Environment is sponsoring Drs. Frey and Andy Grieshop, along with collaborators Drs. Jonathan Casper and Kyle Bunds from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, to measure cyclist exposure to air pollution from vehicles. Drs. Frey, Bunds and Casper also received university funding to measure personal exposure to air pollution before Wolfpack football games (during ‘tailgating’). Dr. Grieshop received funding from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to conduct field measurements of emissions from traditional and improved stoves being used in Malawi.
Drs. Dan Obenour, Tarek Aziz, and Robyn Smyth from Bard College will conduct a field study to determine whether mechanical circulators deployed in Jordan Lake are affecting algal blooms under a new NSF-funded project.