Archives—October 2012

6th Annual D-80 Conference

The sixth annual conference sponsored by Michigan Tech’s international D80 Center was held on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Great Lakes Research Center. The D80 conferences highlight service and research work done by students and faculty from Tech and elsewhere. They are open to anybody interested in design and development of projects to serve the poorest 80 percent of humanity. Continue reading

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar: Oct 18

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Series: Thursday, October 18, 4:05 PM, Dow 641

Analysis of an Electric Vehicle Subscription Service Business Model that Includes Battery Swapping

By Jeff Lidicker, PhD, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


One proposed strategy for facilitating the introduction of electric-drive vehicles is for vehicle purchasers to own the vehicle but to lease the battery from a third party, in order to help reduce the “first cost” hurdle to consumers. A further extension of this concept for all-battery electric vehicles (EVs) would include the ability for consumers to exchange their discharged batteries for charged ones, using “battery swap stations.” These would allow for extended driving range for EV service subscribers, but with increased costs to build and operate the stations. Our analysis centers around a “base case” scenario from 2012–2027 that includes a set of assumptions about subscriber membership levels, gasoline and electricity prices, corporate level expenditures, and the capital costs of batteries, charging stations, and battery swap stations. Our analysis suggests that the economics of this business model are challenging with current gasoline prices and the “base case” scenario assumptions, but that the economics can be favorable under certain circumstances.

Michigan Tech Research Institute (Ann Arbor) Research Projects Presented

Michigan Tech Research Institute (Ann Arbor) researchers shared their posters and time to talk about their work during a day-long poster presentation session in the Atrium of the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building. Numerous faculty and students had the chance to study the posters and meet with the researchers for potential internships, collaboration and inspiration.

View pictures and video clips and links to research project posters and more information

Environmental Engineering Seminar

Environmental Engineering Seminar Sep 15: Dr. Evan Kane, School of Forestry and of Environmental Science, Michigan Tech, Title: “Assessing Biogeochemical Consequences of Wildfire in Arctic and Boreal Forests: Examples from Ongoing Collaborative Research at Michigan Tech,” 3:00–4:00 PM in Room 201 at the GLRC

Michigan Tech at (AREMA) annual conference

Rail Transportation Program (RTP) Director Pasi Lautala (CEE), Assistant Professor Jeffrey Lidicker (CEE) and 20 Rail Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) students attended the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance Right-of-Way (AREMA) annual conference in Chicago recently. Michigan Tech RTP students were recognized for their AREMA scholarship success. Two of the students, Matt Purves (CEE) and Colin Lay (CEE) were selected to serve as student interns for the Conference Operating Committee. Continue reading

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Oct 11

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Series: Thursday, October 11, 4:05 PM, Dow 641

Mary Christiansen, Michigan Tech Civil & Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate

“Geopoly-what?: An Introduction to Geopolymer Cements”

Since its development in the early 19th century, ordinary portland cement (OPC) has cornered the global concrete market based on its reputation to produce a reliable and functional building material. This success, however, comes at a cost. The production of OPC is reported to be responsible for 5-8% of global anthropogenic carbon emissions annually (Scrivener and Kirkpatrick 2008). Efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of this heavily relied upon building material have been somewhat successful, however much of the CO2 emitted during OPC production is inherent in the process and cannot be avoided. This realization has led researchers toward developing alternative low-CO2 binders. Geopolymer cement (GPC) is based on the alkali activation of a powdered aluminosilicate precursor (commonly fly ash or metakaolin). Concrete made with GPC has been shown to perform equally to or better than OPC concrete in terms of mechanical and durability performance. Additionally, geopolymer cement has the added value of a considerably smaller carbon footprint, with reported CO2 emission reductions of up to 80% as compared to OPC (Davidovits 1994; Duxson, Provis et al. 2007).
The presentation will include an introduction to geopolymer cement technology as well as an overview of the concept of creating geopolymers based on the alkali activation of waste glass. This system has the potential to further reduce the carbon footprint of geopolymer cement as well as to develop a dependable market for unsorted waste glass, which is currently an issue in many countries, including the United States.

Lake Superior Water Festival

The 2012 Lake Superior Water Festival was held at the Great Lakes Research Center
Friday, October 5, 2012. The Water Festival program
enthralled over 1,000 students in grades 4-8 classes from regional schools, in addition to triggering excitement amongst their teachers and the parent chaperones who accompanied them.

There were a total of 67 presenters volunteering their time throughout the day, in addition to 34 Michigan Tech students who served as guides leading the classes to their various sessions in and around the Great Lakes Research Center. A total of 30 different sessions on a wide range of topics related to Lake Superior and water resources were presented.
Link for photos and videos of Lake Superior Water Festival –

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Oct 4

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Series; Thursday, October 4, 4:05 PM; Dow 641

Antonio Velazquez, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate in structural engineering

Title: In-operation Output-Only Identification of Wind Turbines Gyroscopic Effects using Parametric-Non-Stationary Subspace System Identification Techniques.

Wind energy has been one of the most growing sectors of the nation’s renewable energy portfolio during the past decade and the same tendency is observed for the upcoming one; however safety and economical concerns have emerged as a result of the newly design tendencies for massive, complex shape, and slender scale wind turbine structures.

One of the most and poorly understood critical effects during the operation of this wind harvesting strcutures is the gyroscopic effect. Gyroscopic action occurs whenever the axis of the rotating body is made to change its direction. Adjusting itself to the current dominating wind direction occurs in an instant of time of critical aerodynamic importance for understanding peak levels of stress and strain imposed to the structure, but also to assure adequate and secure performance of the wind turbine during its operation.
As of today, there is no numerical eigensolution framework that could characterize gyroscopic effects in a unique and general way, and has been remained as an open mathematical problem yet to be solved.

A numerical method based on Arnoldi derivation via Schur decomposition is proposed here for the solution of modal frequencies and mode shapes of the wind turbine. In order to validate results, an in-operation system identification of wind turbine aerodynamics, special attention to gyroscopic effects, is reproduced using output-only vibration acceleration signals. An experiment has been mounted using a distributed wireless sensors network deployed on a Bergey BWC XL.1 wind turbine at UC Davis, CA. Parametric and non-parametric stationary identification analysis is revised in a first stage, followed by a non-stationary time-varying autoregressive model, which is based on a self-proposed modified eigensystem realization (ERA) model.
Advantages of non-stationary identifcation versus stationary counterparts are revealed and discussed, then compared with the analytical solution derived from complex-number modal analysis the gyroscopic mathematical model is composed of.