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City, University Team Up on Manhole Corrosion

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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Hundreds of concrete manhole shafts in a Texas city will soon be evaluated to determine which most need protection from corrosion, and a team from the University of Texas is lending its expertise to the project.

In the short term, the group will look at 350 manholes in the city, prioritizing those most in need of protective coatings. In the long term, the inspection team—based out of the University of Texas at Arlington and led by civil engineering professor Melanie Sattler—aims to develop a way to use this data to evaluate the rest of the city’s manholes.

Corrosion in manholes and sewers is often microbially induced: Inside sewers, microbes convert hydrogen sulfide gas to sulfuric acid, which corrodes the manhole concrete and often the adjoining pipes. When manhole shaft corrosion is left unaddressed, the structural integrity of sanitary sewer mains can deteriorate and surface runoff can get into the wastewater system.

Project Details

Arlington City Council recently approved the project at a cost of $474,723. While evaluating the impact of corrosion that is already occurring is important, the project also strives to evaluate hydrogen sulfide levels and other factors that contribute to concrete corrosion.

Arlington has over 19,000 manholes, many of which are 4-5 feet in diameter and can range from 4 to 45 feet tall. The UTA project also strives to inspect manholes of varying types, categories, and in different geographic locations to get the most comprehensive picture of Arlington’s sewers. Then, the data gathered will provide a model for prioritizing protective measures taken on other manholes.

University of Texas at Arlington

In the long term, the inspection team—based out of the University of Texas at Arlington and led by civil engineering professor Melanie Sattler (pictured)—aims to develop a way to use this data to look at the rest of the city’s manholes.

“The new study will give Arlington water engineers and other cities across the country the data they need to protect vital infrastructure and spend funds wisely," Buzz Pishkur, Arlington's water utilities director, said.

Sattler says the team will use sensors to measure the presence of hydrogen sulfide, inspect corrosion that might already be occurring and study the velocity of flow.

UTA Sewer Program

The UTA project will act in conjunction with UTA’s Ali Abolmaali’s Large Diameter Sanitary Sewer Assessment Program, which uses a robot to inspect miles of city sewer pipeline.

The UTA team also includes: Victoria Chen, the George & Elizabeth Pickett Professor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering; and Arpita Bhatt, an adjunct professor in civil engineering.

“It’s exciting that UTA is at the forefront of helping the city of Arlington,” said Abolmaali, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. “UTA professors further investigate and discover the tools of their trade in these collaborations. UTA students receive vital field work experience in collecting the data in these projects.”


Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; concrete; Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC); North America; Program/Project Management; Sewer systems

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