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. Acceptable Crack Width Limit for UHPC Structural Members in Coastal and Marine Environments Ultra-high performance concrete
    (UHPC) has been extensively researched and implemented as a durable material to construct bridges in Florida. However, there is a concern of the durability of UHPC structures under cracked stage. This project investigates the durability and corrosion resistance of cracked UHPC members and the influence of cracks and self-healing, to determine the limit for acceptable crack width of UHPC members for different exposure conditions. The research outcome will be used as a guide for structure design and maintenance of UHPC bridges.
  2. Strengthening Piers to Resist Vehicular Collision
    FDOT is increasingly encountering projects with existing piers that were not designed to resist the AASHTO LRFD recently changed design force for lateral vehicular impact, and designers must consider strengthening the existing piers. The project applies dynamic finite element (FE) analysis to evaluate the performance of different strengthening methods for piers against vehicle collision and to identify the most promising designs for strengthening piers in Florida.
  3. Physical Simulation of Terrain-Induced and Large-Scale Turbulence Effects on the Effectiveness of Wind Mitigation Strategies for Low-Rise Buildings
    The project seeks to accurately simulate the near-surface wind fields that interact with the built environment and investigate the effectiveness of roof load mitigation strategies for low-rise buildings. The project integrates wind tunnel testing, machine learning, and computational modeling to predict extreme wind loading and fill critical knowledge gaps associated with the complex relationship between atmospheric turbulence and aerodynamic loading acting on civil infrastructure.
  4. Addressing Impacts of Changes in Asphalt Binder Formulation and Manufacture on Pavement Performance through Changes in Asphalt Binder Specifications
    Superpave specifications address binder properties that may lead to rutting, transverse cracking, and fatigue damage with varying degrees of success. However, asphalt binder production and formulation have significantly changed and introduced much more variability in relation to quality since the development of the Superpave Performance-Grade system because of economic, technical, and environmental reasons. This study evaluates the limitations of the proposed linear viscoelastic (LVE) rheological cracking surrogates, such as the delta Tc, R-value, and G-R parameters, and the ability of the Asphalt Binder Cracking Device (ABCD) failure test to overcome these limitations.
  5. Evaluation of Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) Spirals in Corrosion Resistant Concrete Piles
    Piles in Florida are often installed in marine environments or in other environmentally aggressive regions. Under such conditions and without sufficient cover, reinforcing steel in concrete piles is vulnerable to corrosion and the lifespan of support structures can be reduced. FDOT Standard Plans allow Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) as a corrosion-resistant alternative to improve durability. The objective of this project is to study corrosion-resistant alternatives for the lateral (spiral) reinforcement of piles, to decrease the cost of support structures in aggressive environments.
  6. 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.