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University Studies Limb-Inspired Architecture

Thursday, November 12, 2020

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In a recent study, researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado, Boulder looked at the construction of bridges using limb-inspired joints and sections.

While the bridge design has yet to be implemented in the construction industry, the study has since been published in the Journal of Structural Engineering.

About the Study

Traditionally, most bridges are constructed using monolithic systems where concrete is poured over forms that create a structure’s shape. However, the structures have been reported to become damaged and cracked upon undergoing unexpected occurrences, such as seismic activity, ultimately costing the nation billions of dollars in repairs.

To immediate this issue, researchers from both universities assessed new limb-inspired bridge designs and conducted comprehensive damage and repair assessments alongside a panel of experts. According to Texas A&M, the feedback from academia and the industry offered a unique and robust technique for evaluating the feasibility of bridge designs that are still at an early research and development phase.

Texas A&M University

In a recent study, researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado, Boulder looked at the construction of bridges using limb-inspired joints and sections.

The panel of eight experts were chosen by Petros Sideris, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Abbie Liel, professor at the University of Colorado. Other contributors in the study included Jakub Valigura, former graduate student researcher from the University of Colorado, Boulder and Mohammad Salehi, former graduate student in the civil and environmental engineering department at Texas A&M.

“Bridges, particularly those in high-seismic regions, are vulnerable to damage and will need repairs at some point. But now the question is what kind of repairs should be used for different types and levels of damage, what will be the cost of these repairs and how long will the repairs take — these are all unknowns for new bridge designs,” said Sideris. “We have answered these questions for a novel bridge design using an approach that is seldomly used in structural engineering.”

Sideris, along with his team, swapped the monolithic method for a new design they call a “hybrid sliding-rocking bridge,” that employs a series of columns containing limb-inspired joints and segments. In changing the design, the joints were reported to have better allowed energy from the ground motion to diffuse while the segments move slightly, sliding over one another rather than bending or cracking when placed under earthquake-like circumstances.

To assess the damages experienced in the study, the appointed panel provided repair strategies and estimated costs for repair. From there, researchers used that information to fix the broken columns, retested the columns under the same initial damage-causing conditions and compared the repaired column’s behavior to that of the original column through computational investigations.

According to reports on the study, columns built using the hybrid sliding-rocking bridge design sustained less damage overall, compared to its traditional counterparts, even when subjected to motions reminiscent of a powerful once-in-a-few-thousand-years earthquake. Furthermore, the damage could be repaired relatively quickly with grout and carbon fibers, suggesting that no special strategy was required for restoration, Texas A&M concluded.

“Fixing bridges is a slow process and costs a significant amount of money, which then indirectly affects the community,” said Sideris. “Novel bridge designs that may have a bigger initial cost for construction can be more beneficial in the long run because they are sturdier. The money saved can then be used for helping the community rather than repairing infrastructure.”

This project was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Bridges; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Quality Control; Research; Research and development; Z-Continents

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