Engineering

Engineering researchers are putting an innovative two-story structure made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels through a series of seismic tests to gather scientific data that will enable design of mass timber buildings that can survive large earthquakes with little or no repair.

Colorado School of Mines Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Shiling Pei is the lead researcher on the NSF-funded project, having conducted similar tests on a much smaller scale on Mines’ campus prior to this massive effort using the world’s largest outdoor shake-table in San Diego, California.

“Designing buildings that are safe even during large earthquakes is hugely important. We are doing that – and we are going further,” Pei said. “We are working to minimize the amount of time buildings are out of service after large earthquakes. We are also focused on cutting the costs required to repair them.”

The tests are being conducted at NHERI@UCSD, an experimental test site at UC San Diego funded through the NSF’s Natural Hazard Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program. The tests will produce data that will be used in the design of a new generation of tall mass timber structures up to 20 stories.

Researchers work on compeleting construction of the test-structure. Photo Credit: University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
Researchers work on compeleting construction of the test-structure.
Photo Credit: University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

“The overarching goal of this project is to propose a design methodology for seismically resilient tall wood buildings for regions with high seismicity, meaning the building can be quickly repaired after large earthquakes to minimize loss of use,” Pei said. “Several tests will be conducted at different shaking intensities representing frequent, design code level and maximum considered earthquake events.”

The 22-foot-tall structure will be put through a tremor simulating the 6.7 magnitude 1994 Northridge earthquake in the San Fernando Valley, but for twice as long. Researchers will collect data through more than 300 channels in three phases of testing on the building. Data will be generated at pre-selected points to measure how the CLT panels bend and how the panels move relative to each other.

Researchers are particularly interested in a system that allows the building to rock in response to an earthquake and how the walls and floors interact during shaking.

“We have tested the rocking walls by themselves in the lab, but as structural engineers, we know that the system is not equal to the sum of its parts. There are interactions between the parts. That’s why NHERI projects funded by the NSF are so critical. We are finally going to be able to get data on how the different components function as a system during strong earthquakes,” Pei said. 

In a so-called “rocking wall system,” vertical mass timber walls are connected to the foundation by post-tensioned rods that run up through the floor and special U-shaped steel energy dissipaters. The rods allow the walls to rock during an earthquake and snap back into their original upright position, minimizing deformation and resulting structural damage.

A consortium of universities is collaborating on the NSF project, including Mines, Colorado State University, University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Lehigh University, University of Nevada Reno and University of California San Diego.

The two-story investigative testing also received support from multiple industrial partners including Katerra; Simpson Strong-Tie; Tallwood Design Institute; DR Johnson Lumber Co.; Forest Products Laboratory; City of Springfield, Oregon; Softwood Lumber Board; and MyTiCon Timber Connectors.

The NSF project also includes another large-scale test planned later this year at the NHERI-Lehigh testing facility. Based on the insights gleaned from this current set of tests and related research, the team will return to San Diego in 2020 to build, shake and ultimately burn an earthquake-resilient 10-story timber building on the UC San Diego shake table.

The project detail can be found on http://nheritallwood.mines.edu. Ongoing activity at the outdoor shake-table of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure facility is live-streamed by webcam at http://nees.ucsd.edu/video/.  Photos are available on Flickr at http://bit.ly/Shake714.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist | 303-273-3361 | erusch@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Marte Gutierrez, Petroleum Engineering Professor Azra Tutuncu and alumnus Luke Frash have been awarded the 2017 Applied Rock Mechanics Research Award by the American Rock Mechanics Association.


Luke Frash and Marte Gutierrez during a visit with Darren Mollot, Director of the Office of Clean Energy Systems in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.
Luke Frash and Marte Gutierrez showcase their research during a visit from Darren Mollot, Director of the Office of Clean Energy Systems in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.

Frash earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering with specialties in civil engineering and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Mines, studying under Gutierrez. He is now a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The team is receiving the award for their 2015 publication, “True-Triaxial Hydraulic Fracturing of Niobrara Carbonate Rock as an Analogue for Complex Oil and Gas Reservoir Stimulation.” The main topics of research, funded partially by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute, were development of enhanced geothermal systems and hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas reservoirs.

“Well stimulation by hydraulic fracturing is a common method for increasing the injectivity and productivity of wells,” Gutierrez said. “This method is beneficial for many applications, including oil, gas, geothermal energy and CO2 sequestration; however, hydraulic fracturing in shale and other similarly complex geologies remains poorly understood.”

Seeking to bridge the gap in understanding, the team conducted research on large natural rock specimens using true-triaxal stresses, intended to represent field-scale complexities of known oil and gas reservoirs.

“Results from such large-scale hydraulic experiments, particularly on naturally heterogeneous rock samples, remain very limited,” Gutierrez said.

The research team developed special equipment to conduct these innovative field-scale experiments, and Gutierrez says “the results from the scale-model hydraulic fracturing experiments are envisioned to be of important value to the practice of hydraulic fracturing in several fields.”

The award will be presented during the 51st U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium in San Francisco, California, on June 25-28, 2017.

Support for the research was provided by the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute (UNGI) Coupled Integrated Multi Scale Measurements and Modeling Consortium (CIMMM), and the U.S. Department of Energy under DOE Grant No. DE-FE0002760, “Development and Validation of an Advanced Stimulation Prediction Model for Enhanced Geothermal Systems.”

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Amadeu Sum, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, has been awarded the 2017 Arthur Lubinski OTC Best Paper Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

This prestigious recognition is awarded annually during the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) by the ASME Petroleum Division to a contribution that has the highest impact on the offshore industry. The award is named after Arthur Lubinski, who created the ASME Study Committee for the Exchange of Offshore Information that led to the formation of OTC.


Greg Kusinski, Amadeu Sum, Joseph Gomes
From left to right: Greg Kusinski, Amadeu Sum, Joseph Gomes receive the award at the OTC2017 ASME Banquet.

Sum received the award for his paper “Hydrate Management for Systems with High Salinity Brines at Ultra-High Pressures,” coauthored with Yue Hu and Bo Ram Lee, Colorado School of Mines; Prasad Karanjkar, ConocoPhillips; Joseph Gomes, DeepStar; and Greg Kusinski, Chevron. This paper was selected from the hundreds of submissions that were presented at OTC2017 in Houston, Texas.

The work was inspired by an engineering challenge initiated by DeepStar, a joint industry technology development consortium of 12 oil and gas companies, seeking to support deepwater high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) field development activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

In order to conduct research in these extreme conditions, the research team engineered a novel HPHT experimental chamber in which a series of experiments was conducted. This work enabled the delivery of a computational model that can serve as a practical engineering tool for Industry to better predict undesired hydrate plug formations, allowing for optimization of methanol treatment.

Sum’s work verified and validated industry’s understanding of thermodynamics relative to hydrate formation in high salinity and HPHT systems, proving fundamentally important to the development of HPHT fields.

The Lubinski Best Paper Award was presented to Sum and his coauthors on May 1 at the ASME Best Mechanical Engineering Award Banquet.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
 

16th Annual North American Mine Ventilation Symposium

Colorado School of Mines hosted the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s 16th North American Mine Ventilation Symposium, which provides mine ventilation engineers and technicians with the latest information and operating practices from the field, from June 17 to 22.

“With the help of the organizing committee, we assembled a strong, three-day program with technical papers and presentations organized in 20 sessions,” said Jürgen Brune, research professor in the Department of Mining Engineering.

More than 200 industry professionals, exhibitors and booth staff attended the symposium, exchanging ideas and research covering topics such as monitoring air contaminants and producing power-efficient ventilation and cooling systems. The symposium included short courses, technical sessions and even a mine tour.

Rick Brake, director at Mine Ventilation Australia, recieved the 2017 Howard L. Hartman Award, which recognizes distinguished contributions in practice, teaching or research in the field of underground ventilation engineering. Raja Ramani, a previous Hartman award winner and emeritus Deike chair and emeritus professor at Penn State University, gave the keynote address, "Underground Mine Ventilation: Progess and Challenges."

SME’s Underground Ventilation Committee initiated the symposium series, which has been held every two or three years since 1982 and it continues to provide “the latest scientific and technical updates to ventilation engineers and researchers worldwide,” Brune said.

View all of the photos from the event on Flickr.

CONTACT
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines hosted the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 30th Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition in Golden, Colorado, from June 17 to 19. Twenty teams from across the United States, Canada and even a team from China came to campus to showcase their unique watercraft.

ASCE’s concrete canoe competition challenges civil engineering students to apply their classroom lessons to solve a creative and difficult problem while working on a team. Getting a concrete boat to float is only part of the competition. Teams are scored based on an oral presentation, a design paper, the final product and the performance of the watercraft in five races, which were held at Evergreen Lake in Evergreen, Colorado.

More than 200 teams, including Colorado School of Mines, participated in regional events for a chance to compete at the national competition.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo was the overall winner of the competition followed by the University of Florida and the University of Akron.

2017 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition

CONTACT
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Lauren FosterLauren Foster, a PhD student in the Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program at Colorado School of Mines, will spend next year researching the effects of climate change in complex terrain at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program.

The program provides opportunities for graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist—53 awards were granted to graduate students across the country in this cycle.

Foster’s graduate research focuses on the impacts and feedbacks from climate change in complex terrain, and she will be continuing this work with Kenneth Williams, the lead for the Environmental Remediation and Water Resources Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

“More than one-sixth of the world’s population depends on mountain snowpack for their water supply, but there is currently a large gap in the scale of our climate change research,” said Foster. “Global climate models are unable to resolve the complex feedbacks in mountainous regions and observations rely on proxies to scale point measurements over larger areas. My work uses supercomputers to try to bridge these differences by modeling the East River near Crested Butte, Colorado, from 10m resolution up to 1km resolution.”


East River supercomputer model at 10m, 100m and 1km resolution (note: this image can be viewed with 3-D glasses to see topography).

Foster is currently working under Reed Maxwell, Rowlinson Professor of Hydrology and director of the Integrated Groundwater Modeling Center at Mines.

Maxwell characterized Lauren as a stellar student interested in the broader impacts of her work. “Never satisfied with just the science answer or engineering solution, she wants to know how best to communicate her results to stakeholders, managers and the public,” he said. “She is currently in Africa doing an internship to provide low-cost, low-energy filtration systems, providing an easy path to cleaner water.”

Steve Binkley, acting director of DOE’s Office of Science, says “the SCGSR program prepares graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.”

Binkley also noted that the program is meant to enhance an awardee’s doctoral thesis by providing access to the expertise and resources available at DOE laboratories.

Foster said that she is very excited to spend a year working with LBNL staff and learning from Williams’ expertise.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
 

Colorado School of Mines has appointed a dean of graduate studies, who will lead efforts to strengthen research-based graduate programs, increase the university's international student population and promote professional master's and certificate programs.

Wendy Zhou, associate professor of geology and geological engineering, begins her new role at the start of the fall 2017 semester.

“I want to keep our uniqueness, but we need to do something different,” Zhou said. “I believe I have creative ideas that can keep Mines’ uniqueness but can change much needed areas of the graduate education here.”

Zhou’s initiatives will include working to promote professional master’s and certificate programs, increase international graduate student enrollment as well as undertaking a graduate student climate survey that will help Mines develop and implement programs and initiatives that enhance co-curricular support of the research-based residential graduate population.

“I want to feel the heartbeat of the students as a whole,” Zhou said. “The climate survey is part of the way to do that.”

Zhou also wants to hold town hall meetings and graduate student seminars to add opportunities for networking and socializing. In collaboration with Roel Snieder, the newly appointed W.M. Keck Distinguished Professor of Professional Development Education, she will create programs to help students develop professional portfolios.

“I see graduate student quality control as a pipeline,” Zhou said. “We will have quality control from admission to graduation, which will better prepare students for success after graduation.”

Zhou joined the Mines faculty in 2008. She received her PhD in geological engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology. She has a research group of seven graduate students. Her research is focused on the use of geographic information systems and remote sensing for environmental studies and to assess geohazards such as landslides and ground subsidence.

“I chose Wendy for the dean position because she is passionate about advancing a set of well-defined and institutionally important initiatives,” Interim Provost Tom Boyd said. “We hope to develop and create institution-wide initiatives aimed at providing our graduate students—and the programs in which they reside—the opportunity to further develop their professional skill sets.”

 

CONTACT
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines President Paul C. Johnson and GERENS President Armando Gallegos Monteagudo shake hands after signing the MOU.
Colorado School of Mines President Paul C. Johnson and GERENS President Armando Gallegos Monteagudo shake hands after signing the MOU.

On May 22, 2017, the Colorado School of Mines entered into a memorandum of understanding with GERENS Graduate School in Peru. 

Mines President Paul Johnson and GERENS President Armando Gallegos Monteagudo were in attendance to sign the document.

The agreement will mutually benefit mining engineering research and education at both universities by developing projects and learning opportunities for graduate students at both institutions. The agreement will also address the economic, environmental and sociopolitical aspects of the industry.

 

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

Map of the eastern Indian Ocean and surrounding regions. Location of the drilling expedition and the Sunda subduction zone also shown. The Indo-Australian plate subducts beneath the Eurasian plate at the subduction zone and it was the source of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami offshore Sumatra to Andaman Islands (rupture area shaded in yellow). Ocean drilling boreholes are red dots (U1480, U1481). The Bengal and Nicobar submarine fans are fed by river sediments eroded from the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau, creating very large thicknesses of sediment. (Credit: Lisa McNeill, University of Southampton.)
Map of the eastern Indian Ocean and surrounding regions. The Indo-Australian plate was the source of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami subducts beneath the Eurasian plate at the subduction zone (rupture area shaded in yellow). Ocean drilling boreholes are red dots (U1480, U1481).  (Credit: Lisa McNeill, University of Southampton.)

An international team of scientists has found evidence suggesting the dehydration of minerals deep below the ocean floor influenced the severity of the Sumatra earthquake, which took place on December 26, 2004, off the west coast of Indonesia.

The magnitude 9.2 earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated coastal communities of the Indian Ocean, killing over 250,000 people.

Research into the earthquake was conducted during a scientific ocean drilling expedition to the region August through October 2016 as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). Expedition 362 was led by researchers from Colorado School of Mines and the University of Southampton in collaboration with IODP scientist Katerina Petronotis.

On board the research vessel JOIDES Resolution, the researchers sampled, for the first time, sediments and rocks from the oceanic tectonic plate that feeds the Sumatra subduction zone. A subduction zone is an area where two of the Earth’s tectonic plates converge, one sliding beneath the other, generating the largest earthquakes on Earth, many with destructive tsunamis.

Findings of a study on sediment samples found far below the seabed are now detailed in a new paper authored by Dr. Andre Hüpers of the MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at University of Bremen and published in the journal Science. Colorado School of Mines Associate Professor of Geophysics Brandon Dugan was one of the study’s coauthors and coleader of Expedition 362.

“It raised a lot of questions, because that wasn't a place in the world where we thought a magnitude 9 earthquake would occur,” said Dugan.

Expedition coleader Professor Lisa McNeill of the University of Southampton said “the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was triggered by an unusually strong earthquake with an extensive rupture area.” By unearthing the cause of such a large earthquake and tsunami, the scientists hope to be able to assess potential hazards in other regions with similar geological properties.

The scientists concentrated their research on a process of dehydration of sedimentary minerals deep below the ground, which usually occurs within the subduction zone. It is believed this dehydration process, which is influenced by the temperature and composition of the sediments, normally controls the location and extent of slip between the plates, and therefore the severity of an earthquake.


Expedition leaders from left: Lisa McNeill, Brandon Dugan, Katerina Petronotis.
Expedition leaders from left: Lisa McNeill, Brandon Dugan, Katerina Petronotis. (Photo credit: Tim Fulton, IODP JRSO.)

The Sumatra research team used the latest advances in ocean drilling to extract samples from 1.5 km below the seabed, taking measurements of sediment composition including chemical, thermal and physical properties.

At a certain depth, the researchers identified a layer where the water had lower salinity than the overlying and underlying sediment. This evidence of freshwater suggests that the water must have been released from within minerals in the sediment, as ocean water would have been high in salinity.

The researchers found that the sediments on the ocean floor, eroded from the Himalayan mountain range and Tibetan Plateau and transported thousands of kilometers by rivers on land and in the ocean, were subjected to geologic processes over millions of years. These sediments formed a sort of thick shell over minerals far below the seabed, causing chemical transformations within the subsurface.

 A 'free-fall funnel', part of the drilling process.(Photo Credit: Tim Fulton, IODP JRSO)

 A 'free-fall funnel', part of the drilling process.
(Photo 
Credit:Tim Fulton, IODP JRSO.)

These transformations caused the mineral bed to heat, pushing freshwater out of the mineral crystals up through the sediment layers.

At first, this water would have softened the sediment, actually decreasing the risk of a big earthquake by allowing it to absorb more force, Dugan explained. However, as the sediment moved closer to the fault over millions of years, the water flowed away, leaving the sediment dehydrated and brittle—the perfect setup for a megaquake.

The scientists ran simulations to calculate how the Sumatra sediments (currently not yet to the fault) would behave once they had traveled 250 km to the east toward the subduction zone and been buried significantly deeper. The simulations showed the sediment reaching higher temperatures, thus supporting their findings.

Hüpers said that the findings suggest that other subduction zones with thick and hotter sediment and rock could also experience this phenomenon.

“The 2004 Sumatra and 2011 Tohoku earthquakes made us reexamine our understanding of large earthquakes,” said Dugan. “This new analysis extends our knowledge of the conditions that can contribute to large earthquakes that generate tsunamis. We now can assess the potential for megaquakes in subduction margins with limited or no historical earthquake record.”

Subduction zone earthquakes typically have a return time of a few hundred to a thousand years, so applying this research to similar geological regions will allow scientists to better predict these hazards.

Similar subduction zones exist in the Caribbean (Lesser Antilles), off Iran and Pakistan (Makran), and off the western United States and Canada (Cascadia). The team will continue research on the samples and data obtained from the Sumatra drilling expedition over the next few years, including laboratory experiments and further numerical simulations, and will use their results to assess the potential future hazards both in Sumatra and at these comparable subduction zones.
 

 
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
 

 

A solar-powered LED system that alerts motorists to cyclists in bike lanes won the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course at Colorado School of Mines.

Nineteen teams of Colorado School of Mines students exhibited their design solutions for the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, as part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course.

EPICS courses are required for all Mines students, with the centerpiece an open-ended design problem that students must solve as part of a team effort.

More than 500 students organized into 40 teams participated in the RoadX challenge to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

All teams presented their ideas to judges on May 2; judges then selected 19 finalists who exhibited their designs May 3. After two rounds of judging, the winning teams were Team Guardian Angels in third place, Team Illuminatey in second and Team Side Swipers Safety in first. These top three teams were awarded scholarships totaling $1,750 and invited to attend the RoadX awards event in late May.

Team Guardian Angels created a crosswalk that illuminates pedestrians when it’s dark and tracks them as they cross the road. Team Illuminatey’s project, called Lit Lanes, is a strip of LED lights that run along bikes lanes and are activated in segments as a bicyclist passes them, creating an active, moving light strip that follows the biker’s path. Team Side Swipers’ winning design is a solar-powered LED bicycle alert system to help ensure motorists are aware of a bicycle in a bike lane.

“Our target was for vehicles that turn right without thinking to check for a cyclist approaching in the lane,” said Team Side Swipers member and mechanical engineering freshman Christian Tello. “When vehicles don’t check, it can lead to sideswipes, especially since the bicycles are much smaller than vehicles. With our proactive system, the LED array alerts drivers that a cyclist is inbound and we eliminate the need for humans to check. We used a police light pattern for the LED alerts to take advantage of the psychological effects of police lights and to ensure it catches the eyes of all drivers.”

As part of their course work, teams were required to conduct stakeholder interviews and research before beginning their design solution.

“As we worked on this problem, we began to realize how large this issue is—especially for people who commute by bicycle every day,” said Seamus Millet of Team Illuminatey. “We were happy to try and design a solution that would have a positive impact,”

“This semester’s RoadX challenge was an ideal EPICS I project,” said EPICS Program Director Leslie Light. “EPICS teaches open-ended problem-solving and workplace skills, and this challenge has many different solutions through a variety of disciplines,” she said. “Issues with biker and pedestrian safety affect us all, so the students could also relate to it and see the mark their work can leave on the world around them.”

 

Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

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