Lab Facilities

The Structural Hazard Mitigation & Intelligent Materials (SHM&IM) Laboratory is established over two years of development led by Civil Engineering assistant professor Dr. Hongyu Zhou and his students. The lab possesses more than six thousand square feet (6,000 square feet) of high-bay floor space dedicated to infrastructural material synthesis, development, and structural testing.

Multi-functional Structural Loading Frame (OKT, Highbay)

The 20-ft (length) by 10-ft (width) by 16-ft (height) self-reacting loading frame is equipped with high capacity servo-hydraulic actuators (MTS 244: 55,000-lb 20-inch stroke) and the MTS FlexTest-40 digital controller. The loading frame can be versatilely assembled into different configurations to suit various configurations and sizes of the test structure. The high-capacity actuators are able to provide a wide range of loading schemes including static/dynamic push-over, combined compression and shear, and bending fatigue etc.

The facility was established under the funding support of UAH Research Infrastructural Fund (RIF) program through grant (RIF2014-398, PI: H. Zhou), Department of Civil Engineering, and UAH College of Engineering.

Mechanical Testing Equipment and Data Acquisition Systems

o Two MTS-810 Servo-hydraulic Universal Testing Systems (500KN and 100KN)
Two MTS-810 universal material test systems are housed at SHM&IM with one equipped with a 110,000-lbf (500kN) actuator (6-inch stroke), fully adjustable hydraulic wedge-action grips, and a MTS FlexTest SE controller; and another unit with 22.000-lbf load capacity. 
          A number of ASTM standard and customized test fixtures are available to perform a wide-spectrum of material and small-component tests and analysis. The system is also coupled with a National Instrument PXI-express platform for data acquisition, and a VIC-2D digital image correlation (DIC) system for full-field strain analysis.

o      MTS InsightTM Electromechanical Test System (10 kN)
o Two National Instrument (NI) PXI-express chassis with a variety of data channels 
o Two HD cameras staged for strain field analysis (Vic-2D DIC)
o High-precision strain/displacement transducers including LVDTs and extensometers at various measuring range, crack month opening distance (CMOD) sensor, and thermocouples.

Thermal Testing for Materials and Structural Components 
HotDiskTM Transient Plane Source (TPS) -1500S Thermal Constant Analyzer

           The Transient Plane Source Method (HotDisk TPS-1500S) provides one of the fastest (in minutes) and most reliable means to test material thermal properties including thermal conductivity (up to 40 W/mK), heat diffusivity, and specific heat capacity. The TPS test follows the ISO22007-2 standard. It suits a variety of infrastructural materials including concrete (cementitious composites), masonry, wood, and insulation materials.
                The TPS-1500S at SHM&IM is equipment with a high-temperature test module which can test material thermal properties under elevated temperatures up to 300 C; and an Anisotropic Analysis Module that enables the measurement of anisotropic thermal behavior of a variety of materials including wood, fiber reinforced composites, and fiber reinforced concrete and cementitious composites.

o Customized Hot Box Apparatus for Building Envelope Research
The  Hot Box Apparatus was developed based on ASTM C1363 specifications for the thermal conductivity (e.g., R-value) tests of building envelope components. The metering chamber is temperature controlled and instrumented with an array of thermocouples  for the heat flux measurement.

(Note: the device does not meet the size requirement of ASTM C1363 as it is used for testing smaller size prototypes).

o Hydronic Heating and Cooling Station
o Circulation pump and manifolds (digitally controlled by the NI controller)
o Thermal Care 10.5 ton (153,000 BTU/hr) water chiller for hydronic cooling
o FLIR Thermal Imaging System
          (Hydronic heating and cooling station and control)                                   (A thermally activated RC panel)

Prototyping, Material Preparation and Characterization (OKT, S103A, W113)

The infrastructural materials laboratory features a comprehensive set of equipment for material synthesis and characterization. The 900 square feet laboratory houses
an optical table and laser vibrometer set for vibration and dynamic analysis, stereomicroscope, a workstation for material synthesis, sensor calibration and tuning, including a vacuum-assist resin transfer/infusion set, auto-vacuum bagging, and a number of programmable ovens and water baths.  

Hitachi TM-1000 Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

For micro-structural and fractographic analysis

60x to 10,000x magnification
Resolution down to 35nm
15kV BSE detection
Charge reduction scanning mode
X-Y travel 15x18mm
Sample size up to 70mm
Fresh, frozen or gold coated samples

Field Testing and Monitoring Equipment for Bridges and Buildings

The SHM&IM team has developed a suite of field test and monitoring systems for bridge and building structures. The fast-deploy field test systems can be used for measuring static (for long-term monitoring) and dynamic responses of structures. Their wireless configuration and in-situ energy harvesting capability (from solar and small wind power sources) maximizes the flexibility and efficiency for the field measurements, and enables remote data access and control. 

(Picture showing the deployment of wireless sensor networks for monitoring the construction process of Pea River Bridge, Elba, AL. Graduate students: Haiquan Wang, Zhenglai Shen, and Adam Brooks.)