ARLINGTON - Researchers at The University of
Texas at Arlington are partnering with a Belgian company to test new
construction methods for reinforcing concrete pipes with steel fibers to build
stronger, more durable pipes at a lower cost.
UT Arlington civil engineering
professor Ali Abolmaali has been awarded a $155,000 grant through Bekaert, a
global leader in drawn steel wire products, for the project. The grant calls
for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and
the American Society for Testing and Materials to review design specifications
based on UT Arlington’s findings. The work is expected to lead to new design
and construction standards in the United States.
Abolmaali said similar
construction standards calling for mixing steel fibers in concrete pipes
already have been adopted in Europe.
Nur Yazdani, chair of the UT Arlington Department of Civil Engineering,
said Abolmaali’s work is a game-changer in the industry.
“With infrastructures aging in
this country, it’s important for engineers to improve upon what we’ve done in
the past,” Yazdani said.
The pipes – which range in size
from one foot to six feet in diameter – are cast for infrastructure use such as
bridge supports, water transport and sewer conveyance, among other things.
Doctoral student Alena Mikhaylova is shown with the first steel fiber reinforced concrete pipe in the United States.
Bekaert spends a lot of time
searching for new solutions with global partners like Abolmaali, company
spokesman T.R. Kunesh said.
“Steel fiber reinforced concrete
pipe is the norm in the rest of the world so it is critical that we have the
same superior quality concrete pipe for U.S. infrastructure needs,” Kunesh
said. “This cutting edge testing program at UT Arlington will open doors to
many other transportation applications including bridges, drainage and utility
structures making our streets and highways safer.”
Abolmaali said the new anticipated new construction standards would eliminate the need of steel-mesh cages placed inside the form of the cement pipes, thus making the pipe manufacturing process less expensive and less labor intensive.
More testing and evaluation will
be required once the new standards are adopted, Abolmaali said. Industry
leaders including Hansen Pipe, Rinker Materials, Northern Concrete Pip and
Sherman-Dixie Industries are conducting the entire pipe manufacturing for the
grant for free, he said.
“This is really exciting research. Concrete pipe has long been the standard for strength and durability,” said Pete DeLay, chief executive officer for Sherman-Dixie. “With the technology available to us today through improved mix designs and the use of steel fiber reinforcement, we believe that we can develop new standards and design characteristics for concrete pipe that will provide phenomenal long-term performance at a lower cost."
The fact that so many pipe manufacturers are joining in the program speaks to the acceptance of the industry, Abolmaali said.
Pranesh Aswath, professor in
material science & engineering; Simon Chao, assistant professor in civil
engineering; and Tri Le, post-doctoral associate in civil engineering; are
co-principal investigators on the project.
Abolmaali’s research is representative
of the cutting-edge innovation taking place at The University of Texas at
Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,800 students in the heart
of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.