Tagged: Civil Engineering Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 8:43 pm on August 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Caltech Announces Breakthrough $100 Million Gift to Fund Space-based Solar Power Project", , Civil Engineering,   

    From California Institute of Technology (US) : “Caltech Announces Breakthrough $100 Million Gift to Fund Space-based Solar Power Project” 

    Caltech Logo

    From California Institute of Technology (US)

    August 03, 2021

    Kathy Svitil
    (626) 395‑8022

    Collecting solar power in space and transmitting the energy wirelessly to Earth through microwaves enables terrestrial power availability unaffected by weather or time of day. Solar power could be continuously available anywhere on earth.

    Our concept is based on the modular assembly of ultralight, foldable, 2D integrated elements. Integration of solar power and RF conversion in one element avoids a power distribution network throughout the structure, further reducing weight and complexity. This concept enables scalability and mitigates local element failure impact on other parts of the system.

    Most recently we demonstrated the lightest (by an order of magnitude) integrated multifunctional prototype which collects sunlight, converts it to RF electrical power, then wirelessly transmit that power in a steerable beam.
    Credit: Caltech.

    Today, Caltech is announcing that Donald Bren, chairman of Irvine Company and a lifetime member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, donated over $100 million to form the Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP), which is developing technology capable of generating solar power in space and beaming it back to Earth.

    The donation was made anonymously in 2013, but the gift is now being disclosed as SSPP nears a significant milestone: a test launch of multifunctional technology-demonstrator prototypes that collect sunlight and convert it to electrical energy, transfer energy wirelessly in free-space using radio frequency (RF) electrical power, and deploy ultralight structures that will be used to integrate them.

    Donald Bren first learned about the potential for space-based solar energy manufacturing in an article in the magazine Popular Science and in 2011, he approached Caltech’s then-president Jean-Lou Chameau to discuss the creation of a space-based solar power research project. In 2013, he and his wife, Brigitte, a Caltech trustee, agreed to make the donation to fund the project. The first of the donations that now exceed $100 million was made that year through the Donald Bren Foundation, and the research began.

    From left, Sergio Pellegrino, the Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Civil Engineering, JPL-Caltech (US) Senior Research Scientist and co-director of the Space-Based Solar Power Project; Brigitte Bren; Donald Bren; Ali Hajimiri, the Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and co-director of the Space-Based Solar Power Project; and Richard Madonna, project manager of the Space-Based Solar Power Project. Credit: Caltech.

    “Donald Bren has brought the same drive and discipline that he has demonstrated with master planning communities to the Space Solar Program,” says Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum. “He has presented a remarkable technical challenge that promises a remarkable payoff for humanity: a world powered by uninterruptible renewable energy.”

    Donald Bren is best known for master planning and master building the all-new City of Irvine, regularly named one of America’s greenest cities. He has led Irvine Company’s effort to permanently preserve more than 60 percent (57,500 acres) of the Irvine Ranch property along the California coast.

    “I have been a student researching the possible applications of space-based solar energy for many years,” says Donald Bren. “My interest in supporting the world-class scientists at Caltech is driven by my belief in harnessing the natural power of the sun for the benefit of everyone.”

    SSPP aims to ultimately produce a global supply of affordable, renewable, clean energy. A key benefit of harnessing solar power from space is that it provides access to the sun to create power all day, every day, free from weather constraints or darkness of night.

    The project’s first test, which will occur in early 2023, will launch technology prototypes for the solar power generators and RF wireless power transfer, and includes a deployable structure measuring roughly 6 feet by 6 feet.

    The Brens have no financial stake in the project and will not benefit financially from any technology that is created.

    “It shows the magnitude of the generosity,” says Ali Hajimiri, Caltech’s Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and co-director of SSPP. “They really want to change the world and truly see this as an opportunity to make a lasting difference for the planet, while generating a broad range of novel technologies with impact in many areas such as wireless power, communications, and sensing.”

    The Bren’s gift has allowed researchers to overcome many early hurdles and funded the hiring of doctoral students to work on the project with a five-year commitment, notes Sergio Pellegrino, Caltech’s Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Civil Engineering and co-director of SSPP. Pellegrino is also a senior research scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    “It allows us to think ahead,” Pellegrino says. “Without that, it couldn’t get done.”

    “Solar energy is the world’s most abundant energy resource. However, sunlight is intermittent at the earth’s surface. This ambitious project is a transformative approach to large-scale solar energy harvesting for the Earth that overcomes this intermittency and the need for energy storage, since sunlight shines continuously in space,” says Harry A. Atwater, who is an SSPP researcher, Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and director of the Liquid Sunlight Alliance.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Caltech campus

    The California Institute of Technology (US) is a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering, and is one among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.

    Caltech was founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891 and began attracting influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910 and the college assumed its present name in 1920. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán.

    Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphasis on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. First-year students are required to live on campus, and 95% of undergraduates remain in the on-campus House System at Caltech. Although Caltech has a strong tradition of practical jokes and pranks, student life is governed by an honor code which allows faculty to assign take-home examinations. The Caltech Beavers compete in 13 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division III’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).

    As of October 2020, there are 76 Nobel laureates who have been affiliated with Caltech, including 40 alumni and faculty members (41 prizes, with chemist Linus Pauling being the only individual in history to win two unshared prizes). In addition, 4 Fields Medalists and 6 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with Caltech. There are 8 Crafoord Laureates and 56 non-emeritus faculty members (as well as many emeritus faculty members) who have been elected to one of the United States National Academies. Four Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force and 71 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. Numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute(US) as well as National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US). According to a 2015 Pomona College(US) study, Caltech ranked number one in the U.S. for the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn a PhD.


    Caltech is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”. Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934 and remains a research university with “very high” research activity, primarily in STEM fields. The largest federal agencies contributing to research are National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US); National Science Foundation(US); Department of Health and Human Services(US); Department of Defense(US), and Department of Energy(US).

    In 2005, Caltech had 739,000 square feet (68,700 m^2) dedicated to research: 330,000 square feet (30,700 m^2) to physical sciences, 163,000 square feet (15,100 m^2) to engineering, and 160,000 square feet (14,900 m^2) to biological sciences.

    In addition to managing JPL, Caltech also operates the Caltech Palomar Observatory(US); the Owens Valley Radio Observatory(US);the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory(US); the W. M. Keck Observatory at the Mauna Kea Observatory(US); the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at Livingston, Louisiana and Richland, Washington; and Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory(US) in Corona del Mar, California. The Institute launched the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech in 2006; the Keck Institute for Space Studies in 2008; and is also the current home for the Einstein Papers Project. The Spitzer Science Center(US), part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center(US) located on the Caltech campus, is the data analysis and community support center for NASA’s Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope [no longer in service].

    Caltech partnered with University of California at Los Angeles(US) to establish a Joint Center for Translational Medicine (UCLA-Caltech JCTM), which conducts experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer.

    Caltech operates several Total Carbon Column Observing Network(US) stations as part of an international collaborative effort of measuring greenhouse gases globally. One station is on campus.

  • richardmitnick 11:22 am on June 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Civil engineer helps build a better bridge", 10 wireless sensors were installed in the bridge’s core and deck to monitor the strength; temperature; and humidity of the concrete alowing access to the data via smartphone., As part of his doctoral research Christian C. Steputat documented the use of special rebars used in the construction of the Ibis Bridge in Lighthouse Point in Broward County Florida., Civil Engineering, GFRP-glass fiber reinforced polymer rebar, , Using rebars made of glass fiber reinforced polymers (GFRP) which can be twice as strong as steel yet four times as light.   

    From The University of Miami (FL) (US) : “Civil engineer helps build a better bridge” 

    From The University of Miami (FL) (US)

    Robert C. Jones Jr.

    Christian C. Steputat, a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Engineering, has worked on design and construction projects all over the world, including the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas, and the guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino here in Hollywood.

    As part of his doctoral research Christian C. Steputat documented the use of special rebars used in the construction of the Ibis Bridge in Lighthouse Point. Photo courtesy Christian C. Steputat.

    Construction engineers working on the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas faced a conundrum: how to prevent the 40-billion candlepower sky beam atop the pyramid-shaped hotel from incinerating the property.

    To solve the problem, they borrowed a page from aerospace history, employing the same type of multilayer insulation used by NASA to cover the exterior of the Apollo 11 command module that carried the first men to walk on the moon.

    “It looked a lot like crinkled tin foil, but the insulation worked flawlessly,” said Christian C. Steputat, one of the structural specialty spaceframe engineers who worked on the Luxor when it was built in the early 1990s.

    A lot has changed since then. The Luxor is no longer the tallest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, and Steputat is now a doctoral student in the University of Miami College of Engineering.

    But what hasn’t changed is Steputat’s love of civil engineering.

    From a high-rise building in Beijing to a 540-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas to the guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Steputat has worked as a civil engineer on just about every kind of design and construction project imaginable. He was part of a team that built an innovative seawall in Flagler Beach that protects sand dunes, adjacent properties, and a segment of State Road A1A from storm surge.

    But it is a project in the small Broward County suburb of Lighthouse Point that is arguably the most important task on which he has worked. While the Ibis Bridge may not be as intriguing to look at as the Luxor, the 128-foot-long span that traverses the Ibis Waterway is helping to fulfill President Joe Biden’s ambitious goal of ramping up the nation’s infrastructure, with fixing ailing roadways and overpasses at the top of the list.

    Under the president’s American Jobs Plan, 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets will be upgraded; 10 of the most economically significant bridges in the U.S. in need of reconstruction will be mended; and 10,000 smaller bridges, like the Ibis Bridge, will be repaired.

    As part of his doctoral research, Steputat documented the use of, and the partial prestressing process applied to, the special rebars used in the Ibis Bridge’s construction. Those rebars are made of glass fiber reinforced polymers (GFRP), which can be twice as strong as steel, yet four times as light.

    “In older bridges made with steel rebars, boats, jet skis, and other watercraft that travel under them generate sea spray, which can eventually cause rust staining and corrosion,” Steputat explained. But GFRP rebars do not corrode. “You can basically stick them in saltwater, and they’ll never rust,” he said.

    And that’s good news for the city of Lighthouse Point. The $2.4 million Ibis Bridge, which replaces an original span built in 1950, is expected to last a century, Steputat said.

    Steputat also installed 10 wireless sensors in the bridge’s core and deck to monitor the strength, temperature, and humidity of the concrete, accessing the data via his smartphone. “We want to know how the concrete in the middle is behaving compared to the outer surfaces that get a lot of air circulation and cool the quickest,” he said.

    Built by Miami-based Anzac Contractors through a Florida Department of Transportation initiative, the Ibis Bridge can help educate contractors still reluctant to use GFRP in their construction projects, Steputat believes.

    “Most bridges are still built with the old-fashioned steel rebars,” he said. “Using GFRP technology can decrease maintenance costs, and it comes with longer service life. It’s starting to gain a foothold. Not as quickly as we’d like, so we have an obligation to educate not just the public but the construction industry at large.”

    Having worked on design and construction projects on five continents, Steputat is passionate about educating others about the benefits of GFRP. With a mother who is an architect and a father who is an engineer, he grew up on construction sites, often climbing the scaffolding when his parents weren’t looking.

    “I look at our planet in terms of sustainability and resilience,” said Steputat, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (US). “What can we do to make everything better and optimize our systems by using and reusing our available resources? That’s the future of our industry.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Miami (US) is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2020, the university enrolled approximately 18,000 students in 12 separate colleges and schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami’s Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

    The university offers 132 undergraduate, 148 master’s, and 67 doctoral degree programs, of which 63 are research/scholarship and 4 are professional areas of study. Over the years, the university’s students have represented all 50 states and close to 150 foreign countries. With more than 16,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff, UM is a top 10 employer in Miami-Dade County. The University of Miami’s main campus in Coral Gables has 239 acres and over 5.7 million square feet of buildings.

    The University of Miami is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The University of Miami research expenditure in FY 2019 was $358.9 million. The University of Miami offers a large library system with over 3.9 million volumes and exceptional holdings in Cuban heritage and music.

    The University of Miami also offers a wide range of student activities, including fraternities and sororities, and hundreds of student organizations. The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper, and WVUM, the student-run radio station, have won multiple collegiate awards. The University of Miami’s intercollegiate athletic teams, collectively known as the Miami Hurricanes, compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The University of Miami’s football team has won five national championships since 1983 and its baseball team has won four national championships since 1982.


    UM is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. In fiscal year 2016, The University of Miami received $195 million in federal research funding, including $131.3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (US) and $14.1 million from the National Science Foundation (US). Of the $8.2 billion appropriated by Congress in 2009 as a part of the stimulus bill for research priorities of the National Institutes of Health, the Miller School received $40.5 million. In addition to research conducted in the individual academic schools and departments, Miami has the following university-wide research centers:

    The Center for Computational Science
    The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS)
    Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy
    The Miami European Union Center: This group is a consortium with Florida International University (FIU) established in fall 2001 with a grant from the European Commission through its delegation in Washington, D.C., intended to research economic, social, and political issues of interest to the European Union.
    The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies
    John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics – studies possible causes of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration.
    Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE)
    Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research

    The Miller School of Medicine receives more than $200 million per year in external grants and contracts to fund 1,500 ongoing projects. The medical campus includes more than 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m^2) of research space and the The University of Miami Life Science Park, which has an additional 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m^2) of space adjacent to the medical campus.The University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute seeks to understand the biology of stem cells and translate basic research into new regenerative therapies.

    As of 2008, the Rosenstiel School receives $50 million in annual external research funding. Their laboratories include a salt-water wave tank, a five-tank Conditioning and Spawning System, multi-tank Aplysia Culture Laboratory, Controlled Corals Climate Tanks, and DNA analysis equipment. The campus also houses an invertebrate museum with 400,000 specimens and operates the Bimini Biological Field Station, an array of oceanographic high-frequency radar along the US east coast, and the Bermuda aerosol observatory. The University of Miami also owns the Little Salt Spring, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, in North Port, Florida, where RSMAS performs archaeological and paleontological research.

    The University of Miami built a brain imaging annex to the James M. Cox Jr. Science Center within the College of Arts and Sciences. The building includes a human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) laboratory, where scientists, clinicians, and engineers can study fundamental aspects of brain function. Construction of the lab was funded in part by a $14.8 million in stimulus money grant from the National Institutes of Health (US).

    In 2016 the university received $161 million in science and engineering funding from the U.S. federal government, the largest Hispanic-serving recipient and 56th overall. $117 million of the funding was through the Department of Health and Human Services and was used largely for the medical campus.

    The University of Miami maintains one of the largest centralized academic cyber infrastructures in the country with numerous assets. The Center for Computational Science High Performance Computing group has been in continuous operation since 2007. Over that time the core has grown from a zero HPC cyberinfrastructure to a regional high-performance computing environment that currently supports more than 1,200 users, 220 TFlops of computational power, and more than 3 Petabytes of disk storage.

  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on December 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Saurabh Amin- Striving to make our infrastructure safer", , Civil Engineering, Control theory; machine learning and robotics., , Infrastructure, Mathematical systems theory,   

    From MIT News: “Saurabh Amin- Striving to make our infrastructure safer” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    Systems engineer and MIT professor Saurabh Amin focuses on making transportation, electricity, and water infrastructure more resilient against disruptions. Credit: Gretchen Ertl.

    Early on in his studies, starting in India and then in the U.S., Saurabh Amin became fascinated by bringing principles from mathematical systems theory to bear on the real-world systems that we all rely on — in particular, transportation, electricity, and water infrastructure — and how to make them more resilient.

    As the types of disruptions facing these systems, from natural disasters to security attacks, become more frequent and diverse, a proactive approach to monitoring and controlling these systems becomes all the more important.

    Amin started to work on infrastructure systems as an undergraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee, India’s oldest technology institute. Citing other alumni who came before him and contributed to important civil engineering projects around the world, he says, “I was fortunate to study there. I think our curriculum actually had a very good balance” between real-world engineering applications and theoretical understanding of core concepts.

    Inspired by this balance of theory and applications, Amin decided to study transportation systems at the University of Texas at Austin for his masters. He then earned his PhD in systems engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, where he delved into control theory, machine learning, and robotics — areas that have all come together in his more recent research. He now applies these tools to his analyses of different failure mechanisms and pathways, including how to guard infrastructure systems against problems caused by aging, natural disasters, or deliberate malicious action.

    “There are a lot of commonalities among these networks — they are built and operated by human actors, but their functionality is governed by physical laws. So, that is what drives me forward,” Amin says.

    He seeks “to develop a rigorous theoretical foundation of the resilience of infrastructures, to come at it from different angles, and to understand which kind of network failures are difficult or easy to analyze, or to defend against.”

    Amin received an offer for an assistant professor position at MIT while he was still finishing his doctoral work at Berkeley. He had met his wife, Richa Sharma, under MIT’s Great Dome during an earlier research visit at the Institute, where she was completing a doctorate in chemical engineering. But just as he was about to move to Cambridge, she received a postdoc position at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

    “So we exchanged zip codes for a couple of years, before she moved back here again,” he says. Sharma now works at Schlumberger Doll Research on developing new sensor technologies with a specific focus on carbon dioxide. Both share a strong interest of using technology to develop more sustainable solutions. They now have two children, a girl and a boy, ages 6 and 3.

    Amin joined the MIT faculty in 2012. “Coming to MIT from Berkeley, they are somewhat different cultures, but very similar academic environments for cross-disciplinary research,” he says. In 2019, Amin earned tenure in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he teaches classes including 1.208 (Resilient Networks) and 1.020 (Engineering Sustainability: Analysis and Design). Recently, he launched a new first-year discovery subject, 1.008 (Engineering Solutions to Societal Challenges).

    His research at MIT has continued to apply principles of systems theory, including game theory and optimization, to determine the best ways to maintain resiliency in systems. “The angle which I have pursued is of applied theory, applied in the sense that I draw my hypotheses and models, which are in these areas of transportation, electricity, and water,” Amin says. “Then I consider various kinds of failure situations, from attacks to failures resulting from natural events or disasters.”

    In 2020, Amin started to pursue two new collaborative projects: one on pandemic-resilient urban mobility and another on hurricane-resilient smart grid operations.

    To assess such correlated disruption scenarios, he finds ways to abstract these problems into mathematical representations, using methods developed in systems and control theory, optimization, and game theory. That then allows him to use tools developed by these disciplines to develop new ways to understand the potential failure mechanisms in infrastructure systems and propose solutions to plan for and respond to them.

    Part of the analysis involves studying the best ways of allocating limited resources when restoring vital water, power, and transportation systems, for example after a hurricane or earthquake has caused multiple simultaneous failures over a wide area. Key questions include: Where are the key points where sensor systems should be installed, and which shutoffs and switches can best provide system resilience under different scenarios? What type of response capabilities are needed to restore the system functionality as quickly as possible?

    Using game theory in this work, he says, “to me is a nice interplay between the way in which the humans, as operators of infrastructures and users of infrastructures, or even as the attackers to these infrastructures, would behave and interact with this network. And how, on the other hand, the sensing and control systems, which is a more of an automated part, not the human part, can be implemented to make it more robust.”

    This approach of marrying control theory and optimization and game theory principles with traditional civil engineering systems is what brought Amin to his current position. “The reason why I got the job at MIT, I think, was because of this new approach to cyber-enabled infrastructure resilience that I wanted to develop,” he says.

    In integrating these disciplines, “I need to be rigorous in terms of the mathematical proofs that these disciplines provide, and in terms of the performance guarantees that we must provide even under the face of disruptions. Importantly, these guarantees also need to be translated back to something implementable, which is of direct value to the operators or the managers of infrastructures and the large number of users who rely on the services offered by them.”

    “Being able to make small steps to address this challenge, by way of teaching and research, is what excites me about my job the most,” he says.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

  • richardmitnick 5:38 pm on July 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Civil Engineering,   

    From SURF: “Design hinges on core samples” 

    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels

    Sanford Underground Research facility

    July 18, 2016
    Connie Walker

    A10 field work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility

    Before mining companies begin excavating for gold ore, before construction begins on a Manhattan skyscraper, and before building large underground caverns, engineers must first understand the rock. That’s why core drilling is an essential function of any civil or geotechnical project.

    In civil engineering construction, drilling is done on the surface to understand the sub-surface ground: hydrology, soil and bedrock. David Vardiman, geotechnical project engineer at Sanford Lab, uses the Manhattan skyline as an example to highlight the importance of drilling. “Extreme loads require drilling deep to understand the bedrock,” Vardiman said. And that can be seen in the layout of the is¬land. On the southern and northern tips, where the bedrock is closer to the surface and extremely strong, you see 30-40 story buildings. However, as you move toward midtown, the buildings drop to 8-10 stories. That’s because the Manhattan schist is too deep with only glacial till on top.

    At Sanford Lab, engineers drill for the same reason—they need to characterize the rock mass to ensure it will support the large caverns that house experiments. The core sam¬ples tell them about the strength and geologic composition of the rock and reveal the orientation of folds and other imperfections in the rock mass, all of which can influence the design of the excavation.

    The proposed Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and associated Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (LBNF/DUNE) will be housed on the 4850 Level, near the Ross Shaft. The caverns that house the detectors will be 65 feet wide, 94 feet tall and 505 feet long.

    Approximately 800,000 tons of rock will be excavated, so understanding the rock strength is critical.

    “Through drilling, we’ve determined that the rock at the LBNF/DUNE site is very high quality,” Vardiman said. “One of the things that makes the Black Hills such an ideal location for these caverns, is that you can go down a mile and the stresses the rocks experience are very close to being in balance—both vertically and horizontally.”

    To get the core samples, First Drilling set up a Conner 208h core rig, which uses a hollow diamond-tipped bit that cuts through the hard rock and leaves a solid rock core sample in its wake. All of the core is logged and packaged for testing at a geotechnical laboratory. That work was completed by ARUP, the architectural and engineering firm for LBNF/DUNE.

    The data is used to create mathematical models that run analyses on the structural integrity of the rock and to determine what kind of ground support is needed. “We take great care in the analysis of every core sample because the whole design hinges on that,” Vardiman said.

    “We live within the vagaries of Mother Nature,” he continued. “And we use her as our building material, which means we have to be very knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of the rock and the best way to excavate within it. And we have to know how to preserve and augment that strength to get the cavern life span we need in a highly variable-condition environment.”

    Received via email.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    About us.
    The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

    The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

    Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

    In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

    In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

    The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.
    LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURFLUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

    In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

    Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

    Fermilab LBNE

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: