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Infrastructure

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Infrastructure systems form the backbone of all societies. Clean water, energy, and transportation are critical to our health and quality of life.

Aerial view of highways

Our infrastructure will be sustainable only when its full social and environmental context is considered, rather than merely its initial cost. We focus on how to provide reliable and affordable infrastructure services.

Our innovations are not merely academic. Through close partnerships with industry, utilities, nonprofits, and governmental agencies, our research insights and the technologies we devise are frequently applied in practice.

Our research focuses on all stages of a project’s life cycle.

Design phase: our research develops innovative technologies that enhance performance of systems during extreme events such as earthquakes, next-generation smart grids for renewable energy distribution, new materials with enhanced durability and reduced life-cycle impacts, and decentralized technologies for water treatment.

Project delivery phase: we have pioneered virtual design and construction techniques to effectively deliver complex projects and study innovative financing mechanisms to fund mega-projects.

Project use phase: we research how social systems interact with physical systems most effectively and develop new technologies such as wireless sensing systems to monitor the health and performance of our infrastructure.

 

Biobased Materials

Biobased Composites for Construction

The Billington group conducts research on sustainable, durable construction materials, their application to structures and construction, and their impact on wellbeing when incorporated into building design.

We are designing and evaluating biobased composites as a potential replacement for less eco-friendly structural and non-structural materials used in the construction industry. The biobased composites we are studying are made from renewable resources of biopolymers, natural plant and wood fibers and by-products. The composites biodegrade in an anaerobic environment after their useful service life to produce a fuel or a feedstock to produce more biopolymer for a new generation of composites. 

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Rocking Frame

Capacity Design of Rocking Braced Frames

In the event of strong earthquakes, rocking braced frames offer improved seismic performance by quasi-eliminating residual drifts with post-tensioning (PT) cables and allocating all structural damage to energy dissipating (ED) devices. These ED elements consist of either fluid viscous dampers, steel shear plates, friction sliders or buckling restrained braces. The steel braced frame remains elastic while all of the inelasticity is concentrated at the rocking hinge in the ED elements. These innovative structural systems are advantageous since they lead to a pre-allocation of structural damage and hence reduction in overall downtime of the building.

 

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Structures modeling

Multi-physics Modeling for Durable, Resilient, and Sustainable Reinforced Concrete Infrastructure

This research establishes a framework that integrates fundamental and reliable physics-based durability performance evaluation tools to build suitable data-driven decision support systems with a user-friendly BIM interface by using an Application Programming Interface (API). This framework enables more accurate performance assessment and optimization of life cycle sustainability metrics. It helps the decision makers minimize life cycle cost and environment impact (e.g. energy use, CO2 emission) of a building in its service life while maintaining its serviceability.

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Unclogging the DRAIN: Designing Robust Autonomous Infrastructure Networks

Drain Model

Stormwater infrastructure is required to safely manage uncertain precipitation events of varying intensity, while protecting natural ecosystems, under restricted financial budgets. The purpose of this project is to devise more realistic design-phase indicators of stormwater system performance under precipitation uncertainty, by applying and further developing a formal verification method called reachability analysis.

Improving Ductility and Design Methods for Reinforced HPFRCC Flexural Members

HPFRCC Beam Test Set up

High-performance fiber-reinforced cementitious composite (HPFRCC) materials are a family of cement-based materials that under tension shows pseudo-strain hardening behavior. Numerous experimental studies have been conducted to investigate the flexural behavior of steel rebar reinforced HPFRCC members. An experimental database collected from the literature shows a large variation of drift capacity from 1.0% to 17.1%

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