Erallo has teamed up with CFC-WVU to create novel construction materials and innovative smart sensor based monitoring systems in the areas of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Composite Panels and Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC). The collaborative team of Erallo and CFC-WVU has extensive knowledge in structural engineering, composite materials design/testing, UHPC design/testing, as well as sensor-based SHM technologies:
Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC)
Building Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) that uses local materials and cast-in-place fabrication techniques is a goal of the US Air Force. It would be of great benefit to both defense construction and commercial construction markets. The superior strength, extended life, and decreased maintenance and repair aspects of UHPC make it an excellent (and cost effective) choice for many types of structures: bridges, highways, airports, dams, and structures that require enhanced impact, shock and blast resistance. Novel fabrication, curing and testing methods and technology, including the use of sensors to monitor in-situ curing, have been proposed to develop a feasible system for deploying large scale, cast-in-place slabs.
Our team is developing novel UHPC materials, and smart sensor-based curing/monitoring systems that are cost-effective, local materials based, durable in harsh environments and can withstand compressive strengths of 25 to 30ksi. Our prior research indicates that a UHPC with compressive strengths of 20 to 24ksi can be readily manufactured using locally sourced materials. We are in the process of optimizing our current UHPC product by evaluating formulations, aggregate grading/treatment, admixtures, reinforcing fibers and mixing techniques. A prototype curing/SHM system is being developed to detect bubbling, micro-cracking, and other defects. Smart sensors (like thermography, PZT, temp/moisture, P-wave) will be employed to identify cracks and imperfections in the UHPC core using strain-energy based fatigue detection. The system will be ideal in situations where high durability and high performance structures need to manufactured, in-situ – for example bunkers, pavements, ramps, weapons storage, aircraft shelters and command posts.
Due to the superior performance characteristics of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) over conventional concrete, its use in the global construction industry has rapidly expanded over the past few decades. Building Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) would be of great benefit to defense construction as well as the commercial construction markets. The superior strength, extended life, and decreased maintenance and repair aspects of UHPC make it an excellent (and cost effective) choice for bridges, highways, airports, dams, and structures that require enhanced impact, shock and blast resistance. Novel fabrication, curing and testing methods and technology, including the use of sensors to monitor in-situ curing, have been proposed to develop a feasible system for deploy large scale, cast-in-place slabs.
Heat Resistant Composite Panels for Harsh Environments
Advances in aviation and VTOL technologies have increased the requirements of safe landing pads and zones; while at the same time, landing sites at Forward Operating Bases need to be established in a matter of hours. To meet the demands, new and innovative landing mats need to be lightweight, strong, highly heat resistant, and quick to install. Brownout suppression capabilities must be incorporated to provide a stable landing surface and prevent the mat from being swept up by the vortex of the rotor blades. A modular mat of rigid, heat resistant Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) composite materials using compression molding, pultrusion and high temp infusion processes is required. Sensors to verify secure installation and trigger alerts if a module/panel becomes loose -- help in the assembly and ensure secure installation.
Environments: Novel, interlocking Fibre-Reinforced Polymeric (FRP) composite panel systems have been developed that are lightweight, strong, durable, resistant to extreme temperature and environmental conditions and easily deployable. These FRP systems were developed for Marine Expeditionary Airfields and the West Virginia Division of Highways. They have been tested and subjected to 15-18 lbs/sq ft and 18 wheeler truck loads. The final product was deployed in challenging environments, for example, a 2 inch thick panel system was developed for use on the oil fields in northern Alaska. In these harsh environments, the panels must withstand extremely heavy loads from steel-wheels, at extreme temperature swings and on soft support conditions.
A second type of Composite Panel sandwiched a1.5 inch square FRP grate between two ¼ inch thick mats. The grating weighed approximately 2.5 lbs/sq ft and is reinforced by top and bottom mats that weigh 7-8 lbs/sq ft. This super strong panel was installed under roadway pavement by West Virginia’s Department of Highways (DOH) in an on-going multi-year study.
The FRP “sandwiched grate panel” has better fatigue resistance and can withstand heavier loads and a higher number of load repetitions than the single layer panel; however, the single layer panel is quicker to install and deploy. Both forms can easily handle up to 800 kips (~ 44 kips per wheel).
Sensors, like strain gages, LVDTs & accelerometers are being used in experimental and theoretical techniques to determine structural responses for the design. Additional applications for the FRP composite panel systems are runway ramps and portable helipad landing sites.
Military and Commercial Applications: Military “spin offs” from this technology can impact other related areas, like jump jet platforms, short field assault strips for unmanned air vehicles, and other future aircraft. Other military applications could include elevated deck tiles that are lightweight, structurally rigid, and extremely fire resistant. Navy ships utilize elevated deck systems to permit communication, electrical, and HVAC systems to run underneath the false deck. Uses include bulkheads, built in accommodations, and moveable dividers would also be possible. There is a large military market for tough, fire resistant and lightweight composite panels, for applications including fire resistant portable shelters to support housing, medical, and storage facilities.
The primary characteristic of the composite material developed is that it has a high degree of fire resistance. Commercial applications of this technology would range from fire resistant flooring tiles to building materials for decking and fire resistant doors. Being resistant to extreme heat and chemicals, the flooring tiles could also be used in hazardous environments, like chemical plants; in harsh environments, like Alaskan oil fields; or in emergency settings, like disaster aid. In addition, these large composite panels could be used in the commercial construction market providing fire resistant cubicles, room dividers and nonstructural wall partitions.