Sustainable Materials and Resilient Structures

Focus Area 1: Sustainable Construction Materials

  • High performance and functional concrete materials
  • Reuse and recycle of construction materials
  • Characterization of material
  • Pavement and foundation materials

High performance construction materials and materials with special functions are designed to improve the sustainability and durability of infrastructures. Some construction materials or industrial by-products can also be reused or recycled. One aspect of research is to study life-cycle cost of innovative construction materials and benefit of reusing or recycling. The other aspect is to design and test the performance of the material experimentally. In order to use the test results in general cases, the performance of the material should be characterized systematically. Often, mathematical or computational models of the material are also developed. Our faculty expertise lies not only in construction materials for structures, but also in materials for pavement and foundation.

Focus Area 2: Structures Subjected to Coastal Hazards

  • Basalt, carbon, and glass fiber composites
  • Wind engineering
  • Bridge engineering

Two unique challenges exist in Florida, which are also commonly observed in many coastal regions in the world. First, the environment is prone to cause corrosion in structures. Our research focus is to study structures (often for bridges) that are resistant against corrosion, thereby minimizing or eliminating the need to retrofit the structure. Examples include basalt, carbon, and glass fiber reinforcements, and stainless steel reinforcements. Second, the region is frequently subjected to hurricanes. We study wind loading on structures and approaches to minimize the negative effect.


Laboratory for Material and Structural Testing

The department has a large laboratory space for material and structural testing. There are three material testing frames and actuators, as well as equipment dedicated for concrete specimen testing. The capacities for material testing actuators are: 30 kN (quasi-static only) and 50 kN (two machines; dynamic/cyclic). The laboratory has a strong floor to enable full-scale testing of structures until failure. There are two actuators and a large testing frame. The capacities of two actuators are 500 kN and 250 kN, both controlled by hydraulic pressure with the ability to apply dynamic/cyclic loading.


Wind and Impact on Structures (WISE) Laboratory

This research group studies structures subjected to dynamic loading such as wind or impact. Examples of research topics include: wind turbines and buildings subjected to hurricane winds, and crashworthiness and safety of vehicles. The lab employees modern tools to gain new insight or enable new approaches that were not possible in the past.

Example Projects

  1. Investigation of Carbon Fiber Composite Cables Prestressed Concrete Piles
    Florida DOT commonly uses concrete piles prestressed with steel strands in bridge foundations due to their economy of design, fabrication, and installation. However, when installed in marine environments, the steel strands are prone to corrosion and degradation, resulting in costly repairs or replacement. In this project, the suitability of replacing steel prestressed strands with carbon fiber composite cables, an advanced material that does not corrode, was studied.
  2. Evaluation of Florida Asphalt Mixes for Crack Resistance Properties Using the Laboratory Overlay Test Procedure
    Significant improvements in Florida’s asphalt pavement have been achieved over the past decade as a result of continued research. However, cracking remains the top form of damage exhibited by asphalt pavements in Florida. In this project, researchers determined the usefulness of overlay testing as means of characterizing the crack resistance of a number of asphalt mixes used by the Florida Department of Transportation.
  3. Investigation of Impact Factors for FDOT Bridges
    Florida DOT manages more than 6400 bridges and receives frequent requests to permit vehicles to use them that are larger than the normal loads for which the bridges were designed. Understanding how these vehicles interact with and affect the bridges is critical to the permitting process, as well as to design, maintenance, and planning. Researchers used the finite element models to investigate the dynamic loading of bridges and complemented simulation studies with field experiments. Experimental testing was also carried out.
  4. Offshore Wind Turbines Subjected to Hurricanes: Simulation of Wind-Wave-Structure Interaction and Aerodynamic Load Reduction
    The research objectives of this project are to investigate the behavior of offshore wind turbines subjected to hurricane loads and to develop novel approaches that can reduce the damage. Offshore wind farms have enormous energy potential, yet one of the major concerns is vulnerability of wind turbines in hurricanes. The results of this project can reduce risk to wind turbine structures in hurricanes and can contribute to wider adoption of the offshore wind energy.
  5. Promoting Preventive Mitigations of Buildings against Hurricanes through Enhanced Risk-Assessment and Decision-Making
    The goal of the project is to better quantify the effect of structural retrofit of buildings against hurricane winds. Mitigation actions improve resilience of the coastal communities because more buildings will remain functional even after the storm, or quickly recover compared to unmitigated buildings. The main contribution of this research was development of fragility and vulnerability models considering uncertainties in structural performance.