Category Archives: Research

Rail Transportation Activity

Michigan Rail Conference 2019

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation and Michigan State University Railway Management programs recently collaborated to execute the seventh annual Michigan Rail Conference.

The event was held at the Henry Center on the MSU campus Aug.7-9, and featured speakers from across the country and across the many disciplines that make up the rail industry.

Ron Batory, the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration was the keynote speaker, and more than 140 people from all aspects of the rail industry participated.

Pasi Lautala, director of Tech’s Rail Transportation Program (RTP) was a speaker for the Local Impacts and Opportunities panel, and David Nelson, senior research engineer from RTP, spoke as part of the Crossing Safety session. Details about the conference including a selection of conference photos are available on the RTP web site.

By the Rail Transportation Program.
MEDA 2019 meeting graphic

National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Conference

Pasi Lautala (CEE) director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program gave an invited presentation entitled “Survey of Railway Crossing Research at Michigan Tech” at the National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Conference. The conference had almost 300 participants and took place in Pittsburgh, Aug. 19-22.

Michigan Economic Developers Association Annual Meeting

Lautala was one of three panelists discussing Mobility in Michigan as part of the Michigan Economic Developers Association annual meeting Aug. 16 in Marquette. Lautala also provided testimony as part of the public hearing on “Rail service in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan”, organized by State Senator Ed McBroom and Wisconsin State Senator Tom Tiffany in Marquette Aug. 26.

New Funding

Kuilin Zhang (CEE/MTTI) is the primary investigator on a project that has received a $567,230 contract with the Federal Railroad Administration. This project is entitled, “Developing Safe and Efficient Driving and Routing Strategies at Railroad Grade Crossings Based on Highway-Railway Connectivity.”

Pasi Lautala (CEE) is the Co-PI on this potential two-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.


Zhanping You on Rubber Technology for Kalamazoo County Road Repair

Binder Spray using a truck

SPOTLIGHT – Road Commission of Kalamazoo County

2018 Scrap Tire Market Development Grantee

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy sent this bulletin at 08/20/2019 10:00 AM EDT

The Road Commission of Kalamazoo County (RCKC) was awarded a Department of Environmental, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Scrap Tire Market Development Grant in partnership with Michigan Technological University (MTU) for scrap tire innovation. An estimated 13,672 scrap tires were recycled on the project, which took a significant amount of coordination with the partners due to its experimental nature.

The project includes the use of new rubber technology never before used in the United States. The project utilized hot rubber chip seal (HRCS) and hot rubber thin overlay (HRTO) on two different segments of W Avenue from the Schoolcraft Village Limits to Portage Road. There were also two conventional chip seal application segments installed as control sections. Each of the four project sections spanned 4,000 feet of West W Avenue.

“The purpose of the project is to evaluate the new reacted and activated rubber and to investigate the applicability of such rubber mainly composed of finely grinded scrap tires. The aim is to create a more cost-effective, long-lasting, safe and environmentally friendly, mixes and surface treatments,” Dr. [Zhanping] You said.

Read more at the EGLE bulletin.


Pasi Lautala Presents at Summerail 2019

Gateway ArchPasi Lautala (CEE), director of Rail Transportation Program, participated in the Summerail 2019 in St. Louis, MO on July 24-26. Dr. Lautala gave the presentation “Moving Forest Products in Upper Midwest—are there benefits from increased rail movements?” He also chaired the “TRB AR040—Freight Rail Transportation” committee meeting.

The conference is designed to bring together railroad professionals, government officials, and academics to discuss the past, present and future of the U.S. railroad industry.


Seawater Intrusion-Impacted Aquifer Project Funding for Alex Mayer

Alex Mayer
Alex Mayer

Alex Mayer (Civil-Environ Eng / GLRC) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $319,950 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “CBET-EPSRC Efficient Surrogate Modeling for Sustainable Management of Complex Seawater Intrusion-Impacted Aquifers.” This is a potential three-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

Extract

Water management in densely populated coastal regions is one of the most pressing sustainability challenges worldwide. Coastal groundwater is especially vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise due to the potential for seawater intrusion into groundwater aquifers. Seawater intrusion has reduced water supply in all coastal regions of the US. This has resulted in high costs to society.

We propose to address this challenge by developing models that are orders of magnitude faster than current models.

These modeling advances will be made in collaboration with water supply agencies, with the goal of increasing the utility of groundwater modeling for coastal communities. Successful development and adoption of these approaches will help agencies tasked with the protection of coastal aquifers devise sustainable management strategies to protect scarce water resources.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


MIRE Upgrades in Roadsoft

Roadsoft

Tim Colling (Civil and Environment Eng/CTT) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $30,504 other sponsored activities contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. The project is titled, “MIRE Upgrades in Roadsoft.” Gary Schlaff (Civil and Environmental Eng) and Nick Kozykowski (Civil and Environmental Eng) are Co-PI’s on this approximate three-month project.

By Sponsored Programs.

MIRE refers to Model Inventory Roadway Elements fields.


Ko and Lautala Publish on Multimodal Biomass Transportation

Sangpil Ko and Pasi Lautala (CEE) have published four journal articles related to multimodal biomass transportation logistics. The articles also provided the foundation for Sangpil Ko’s dissertation Woody Biomass Transportation and Logistics: Modeling Studies for the Great Lakes Region.

Cleaner Production coverSangpil Ko, Pasi Lautala (CEE), and Robert Handler (ChemEng/SFI), published the article, “Securing the feedstock procurement for bioenergy products: a literature review on the biomass transportation and logistics” in the Journal of Cleaner Production. The journal is a peer-reviewed academic publication that is currently ranked first in Google Scholar in the Sustainable Development category.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.07.241

BBB coverSangpil Ko, Pasi Lautala (CEE), Jiqing Fan (California EPA), and David Shonnard (ChemEng/SFI), published the article “Economic, Social, and Environmental Cost Optimization of Biomass Transportation: A Regional Model for Transportation Analysis in Plant Location Process” in the Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining. The journal is a peer-reviewed academic publication of the Energy and Fuel category.
https://doi.org/10.1002/bbb.1967

TRR coverSangpil Ko and Pasi Lautala (CEE), published the article, “Advanced Woody Biomass Logistics for Co-Firing in Existing Coal Power Plant: Case Study of the Great Lakes States” in the Transportation Research Record. The journal is a peer-reviewed academic publication of Transportation Science and Technology category.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0361198118797806

Agriculture coverSangpil Ko and Pasi Lautala (CEE), published the article “Optimal Level of Woody Biomass Co-Firing with Coal Power Plant Considering Advanced Feedstock Logistics System” in Agriculture. The journal is a peer-reviewed academic publication of Agricultural Technology and Crop Production category.
DOI: 10.3390/agriculture8060074


Outstanding Member Award for Zhanping You from World Transport Convention

Zhanping You
Zhanping You

Zhanping You (CEE) was recently awarded as the Outstanding Member as a section chair of highway materials in the 3rd World Transport Convention 2019. This award is the highest recognition for the contribution of WTC member. The World Transport Convention was held in Beijing, China, June 13 to 16. More than 7,000 representatives from over 60 countries attended this meeting.

You also gave a keynote speech on “Research on Rubber Based Pavement in Wet-Freeze Region” in The Second Durable Pavement Research Forum. Another invited speech You delivered was on “Development and Validation of Innovative Laboratory Chip-Seal Tests.”

During the conference, You also met with the former graduates and friends of Michigan Tech and discussed research and education activities with them. Shuaicheng Guo, a post-doc in CEE also attended this conference. Guo presented on behalf of Wenbo Ma, a former visiting scholar at Michigan Tech, for a speech on “Atomic Force Microscope Study of the Aging/Rejuvenating Effect on Asphalt Morphology and Adhesion Performance.”

By Shuaicheng Guo.


MDOT Funds Roadsoft Project

Tim Colling
CTT Director Tim Colling

Tim Colling (CEE/CTT) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $50,525 contract from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Gary Schlaff (CEE) and Nick Koszykowski (CEE) are Co-PI’s on the project titled “Roadsoft Support for MDOT Safety Services.” This is a potential three-year project.


Concrete Canoe Team is Tenth Overall in 2019 National Finals

Concrete Canoe Team 2019 with their canoe

The 2019 National Finals for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Concrete Canoe Competition took place June 5-9 at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

The students’ efforts to combine engineering excellence and hydrodynamic design to construct water-worthy canoes have culminated in an advanced form of concrete construction and racing technique known as the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.”

The Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team placed tenth overall at the National competition. In addition to their overall finish, they ranked seventh in the oral presentation, 13th in design paper, 11th in display, and eighth in racing. Great job team!

oncrete Canoe Driftwood 2019


TAMC Culvert Project Selected as 2019 Project of the Year, Awarded to CTT

APWA 2018 Award with five people including two recipients

Michigan Tech has experts in innovation making a statewide impact: Chris Gilbertson, PhD, PE, and Scott Bershing, both at the university’s Center for Technology & Training (CTT). Gilbertson, associate director, and Bershing, technical specialist, received a 2019 Project of the Year award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Gilbertson and Bershing were technical experts on the project team led by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council’s (TAMC) Bridge Committee. The Bridge Committee received a charge from the state and responded with the 2018 Michigan Local Agency Culvert Inventory Pilot Evaluation to learn about its county- and city-owned culvert assets.

In seven-months’ time, the project team developed a culvert data collection method and assessment system. They also made updates to Roadsoft, the asset management software developed by the CTT and used by Michigan’s local road-owning agencies. And, they recruited and deployed 49 local road-owning agencies in Michigan to test the data collection and assessment processes on nearly 50,000 culverts.

“The TAMC and Michigan Tech received the award, but the success of the pilot would not have been possible without the efforts of many others around the state,” commented Gilbertson.

Bershing said, “This was a good example of multiple agency cooperation, working together under a tight time frame and deadline to complete the project.” That collaboration helped the TAMC to estimate Michigan’s total number of culverts at 196,000 with a replacement value of $1.48 billion. It also found that Michigan’s local agencies own and maintain 7.3 to 9.2 million feet of culvert assets—or 1,798 miles (the distance from Houghton, Michigan to Miami, Florida)—with most being corrugated steel pipe. Another key finding from the pilot was that a majority—67.2 percent—of culverts held a condition rating of a 6 or better on a 10-point scale.

Participating agencies benefitted not only from the results but also from the processes developed by the project team. These processes gave the agencies useful strategies for managing their assets and guidance for developing proactive management strategies.

“It’s rewarding to be recognized for the hard work we put in on this project”, said Bershing. Gilbertson echoed his colleague, saying, “I’m honored that we were recognized by the APWA for the work that we put into the culvert pilot last year. We are truly thankful to all those individuals who made this possible.”

Gilbertson and Bershing share this recognition with the entire project team and the 49 participating agencies.  Without their support, this culvert project would not have been a success.

The final report for the pilot study is available on the TAMC website: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/tamc/TAMC_2018_Culvert_Pilot_Report_Complete_634795_7.pdf