Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Completes Another Successful Michigan Rail Conference

Lake State RailwayFrom Aug. 7 to 9, 2018, the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) worked with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan State University and a planning team of dedicated rail industry representatives to present the Michigan Rail Conference 2018.

Under RTP’s leadership, the planning committee consisting of rail industry, government agencies and other stakeholders interested in promoting the industry brought together more than 30 speakers and more than 100 participants in Saginaw to focus on the conference theme, “End to End Journeys: Integrating Partners.”

RTP faculty, staff and students led the conference coordination and logistics. Nikkie Johnson (MDOT), and Nicholas Little (MSU), were conference co-chairs, while David Nelson (CEE) and Amanda Kerttu from Michigan Tech were lead coordinators for the program. Two students, Alex Christmas and Kyle Dick, came to Saginaw to assist and to enjoy the conference.

Day one of the conference was capped off with an evening reception at the Lake State Railway’s offices and yard, and featured a train ride to Midland and back on vintage passenger cars brought to the yard specifically for the conference. Day two featured the technical content of the conference at the Saginaw Valley State University conference center. The program included eight plenary and breakout sessions featuring industry experts in a host of passenger and freight-rail topics. The keynote address was given by Jo Strang, senior vice president, Safety and Regulatory Policy from the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Administration (ASLRRA).

The event wrapped up with a full day of field trips featuring stops at a variety of rail served shipping locations and culminating with another train ride, again hosted by Lake State Railway Company, this time from Grayling back to the Saginaw area.

The event provided an excellent venue for discussions and networking across the entire spectrum of rail industry companies and supporters in Michigan.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Zhanping You
Zhanping You

A team from Michigan Tech recently traveled to Kalamazoo and Muskegon counties in Lower Michigan to conduct field research with recycled rubber materials from scrap tires. The research group was led by Zhanping You (CEE) with students Siyu Chen, Dongdong Ge, Isaac Pantti and Brock Rudlaff.

The Kalamazoo project was a result of a joint effort of the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County (RCKC), Michigan Tech and others. Joanna I. Johnson, managing director of RCKC and You jointly applied for funding through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Scrap Tire Development Grant program. For the project, four test sections were contructed—hot rubber thin overlay (HRTO), conventional thin overlay, hot rubber chip seal (HRCS) and conventional chip seal.

Chip seal consists of a spray-on asphalt emulsion covered with aggregate chips, while overlay involves a new layer of an asphalt mixture on a milled surface. The experiment included the addition of scrap-tire rubber to improve the property of the asphalt mixture. This could provide a longer sustainable pavement and another application for recycled tires.

“The purpose of the project was to evaluate the new reacted and activated rubber to investigate the applicability of such rubber, mainly composed of finely grinded scrap tires,” You says. “The aim is to create more cost-effective, long-lasting, safe and environmentally friendly mixes and surface treatments,” This was the first time such a product was used in the United States according to You.

He says preliminary results, on a three-mile test section, show HRTO provided a smoother and quieter surface compared with a traditional overlay. The HRCS posed challenges to properly applying the material at the beginning of the project.

The Muskegon County project included emulsified rubber asphalt chip seal and conventional chip seal for a county road. Again, the work was funded by the Scrap Tire Development Grant program. Paul Bouman, highway engineer with the Muskegon County Road Commission, has worked closely with Michigan Tech researchers over the years and helped identify the test sections.

You says, “the bond strength between the chip seals and the old pavement will be evaluated under various temperature and freeze-thaw conditions. Samples from these field projects will be tested in asphalt materials laboratories at Michigan Tech, in order to better understand the road performance with these rubber materials.”

New Funding

Zhanping You (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $75,000 research and development grant from the Dickinson County Road Commission. Qingli Dai (CEE) and Siyu Chen are Co-PIs on the project “Using Rubberized Overlay to Maintain High Volume Traffic Road in Dickinson.” This is a 15-month project.

Torch Lake Study Funding for Cory McDonald

Cory McDonald
Cory McDonald

Cory McDonald (CEE/GLRC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $39,932 research and development grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The project is titled, “Torch Lake AOC Benthos Monitoring.” This is a nine-month project.

AOC is an Area of Concern, a location that has experienced a high level of environmental degradation and is so designated under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Water Resources Recovery Presented at Disinfection and Reuse Symposium

Disinfection and Reuse Symposium 2018 banner imageJennifer Becker (CEE) was recently invited to present a paper entitled, “Low-cost, low-tech biosolids treatment via combined long-term storage (lagoon) and air drying: A comparison of two pilot-scale studies,” at the Water Environment Federation’s 2018 Disinfection and Reuse Symposium in Portland, Oregon. The symposium took place July 29 – July 31.

The paper, co-authored by Eric Seagren (CEE) and graduate students Karina Eyre (CEE) and Tanner Keyzers (Bio Sci), highlights pilot-scale work performed in collaboration with the water resources recovery facilities in Houghton and Ironwood.

The symposium is designed to educate practitioners, facility owners, operators, researchers, and public administrators about current reuse and disinfection issues, including regulatory requirements and methods for analyzing problems and finding innovative solutions. It is held by the Water Environment Federation in cooperation with the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association and The Water Research Foundation.

Zhen Liu Publishes on Multiphysics in Porous Materials

Multiphysics of Porous Materials book cover abstract imageZhen (Leo) Liu (CEE) has published “Multiphysics in Porous Materials,” with Springer. This book is one of the first comprehensive books on the interdisciplinary area of multiphysics, which spans many science and engineering disciplines. The book was developed from Michigan Tech graduate course CEE5870, “Multiphysics in Porous Materials.”

Liu has also been leading the development of the first general learning and networking website for multiphysics: multiphysics.us. The development of both the book and the website was supported by the National Science Foundation and the website is under continuous development with support from the multiphysics software industry.

eBook ISBN 978-3-319-93028-2
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-93028-2
Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-93027-5

Use of RoadSoft Leads to Efficiency

RoadSoft West Lafayette showing traffic construction

WLFI, a news channel in West Lafayette, Indiana, ran a piece about the city of West Lafayette using Michigan Tech’s RoadSoft software suite to maintain their roads more efficiently. The Center for Technology & Training, housed in Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, develops, maintains and supports RoadSoft, which allows road owners to track the condition of their road assets and to calculate what, where and when treatments should be applied in order to achieve the best possible service life. RoadSoft is funded by the state of Michigan, so the software is available free of charge to Michigan road-owning agencies and for a fee to agencies outside of Michigan.

Read more and watch the video at WLFI, by Kiyerra Lake.

Summer Youth Explore Rail and Intermodal Transportation

Rail and Intermodal Summer Youth group standing near a rail car

Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program was featured in the story “Transportation and Logistics Research Center hosts Rail and Intermodal Summer Youth Program,” released by the University of Wisconsin-Superior. The story looks at a visit to the Duluth/Superior area by SYP’s Rail and Intermodal program.

The 9th annual SYP was hosted by the Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program and UW-Superior. The 16 high school participants coming from as far away as New York, Florida and Colorado began the event at Michigan Tech before arriving in the Superior-Duluth region for two days of industry tours.

Scheduled field visits took place July 8-14, 2018.

  • BNSF Superior, WI Railyard Facilities
  • CN Superior, WI Inter-Modal Railyard Facilities
  • Halvor Trucking Lines, Superior, WI
  • North Shore Scenic Railroad & Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Duluth, MN

Kids Explore Copper Harbor

Kermits Keweenaw Kids
Kermit’s Keweenaw Kids on the Agassiz at the Copper Harbor Dock

COPPER HARBOR, Mich. (WLUC) – Kermit’s Keweenaw Kids explored Copper Harbor Friday. The program has provided activities for Keweenaw County youth since 1975.

Friday they partnered with Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. Through the Ride the Waves program and a ride on the Agassiz, children saw Copper Harbor from a new perspective.

“About an hour and a half exploration into the harbor of Lake Superior. They are also going out on an hour and a half walk on Hunter’s Point as part of the Ride the Waves program, which is a way to teach students about how scientists study the great lakes,” said Lloyd Wescoat of the Center for Science an Environmental Outreach.

Read more and watch the video at WLUC TV6, by Mariah Powell.

Sixth Annual Lake Superior Day

Lake Superior Day 2018 shows people painting a model ore boatCOPPER HARBOR — The sixth annual Lake Superior Day was celebrated at Copper Harbor, with kids’ games, free hotdogs and goodies and rides on Michigan Technological University’s research vessel Agassiz.

The Agassiz, with a capacity of 18, took people into Copper Harbor on 45-minute excursions, where a Michigan Tech professor spoke to the passengers on the types of research the boat is used for, including studying the overall health of Lake Superior, and the many methods used in doing so. He then showed the passengers collections of algae taken during each trip, allowing people to see how the samples are collected.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig.

State of Lake Superior Conference 2018

SOLS18 logoCall for Abstracts

The Call for Abstracts for the 2018 State of Lake Superior Conference (SOLS) is now open. SOLS will take place Oct. 9-12, 2018, on the Michigan Tech campus.

The State of the Lake Conference series rotates each year and focuses on lake-specific research, policy and local implementation.

The conference is hosted by the International Association for Great Lakes Research with generous support from sponsors and local university hosts. SOLS18 is the second in an annual series of State of Lake conferences aimed at bringing together lake-specific research, policy development, management, education, and nonprofit organizations to broaden the discussion and provide diverse interaction among stakeholders.