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Researchers Develop Stronger Material for Earthquake-Resistant Bridges

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naperlou
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Scaling up
naperlou   9/13/2013 9:25:01 AM
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Elizabeth, wow!  Talk about scaling up!  From eyeglass frames to bridge supports.  It is incredible that the engineers would have thought to use it.  And, 3% is not bad for a safety critical improvement.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Scaling up
TJ McDermott   9/13/2013 11:42:16 AM
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Elizabeth, I agree with Naperlou.  3% cost increase for materials does not sound like a significant concern.  Projects of bridge and tunnel scale go over budget by vastly more than that every time.

There was no mention of corrosion reisistance.  Is Nickel-Titanium more resistant to corrosion than the steel used in re-bar?

Charles Murray
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Re: Scaling up
Charles Murray   9/13/2013 6:01:50 PM
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I agree with naperlou and TJ on all counts. Superelasticity -- which I assume describes the ability to recover (and not deform plastically) from massive stresses -- would be the natural solution. In a sense, I assume this is similar to battery research in that the researchers spend lots of time looking for a chemistry with just the right material properties. To get there for only a 3% bump in cost sounds miraculous. Great story.

vimalkumarp
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cost - benefit
vimalkumarp   9/14/2013 12:29:09 PM
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the high cost could be recuperated in long-term maintenance and other benefits in using the material will justify its usage. alongwith SHM ( Stuctural Health Monitorign) systems this will reduce danages even with a strong earthquake.

NadineJ
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Re: Scaling up
NadineJ   9/14/2013 6:36:25 PM
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It seems like this would be more viable for elevated freeways than for bridges. Images of the freeway collapse in the 1995 Kobe Quake are more haunting than the section (or seam) that detached on the upper deck of the Bay Bridge in 1989. 

A little flexibility in a bridge is good.  Too much is frightening.  The Golden Gate Bridge has a nice sway on a windy day.  How would this material react to high wind?   What additional precautions are needed to prevent corrosion? 

Overall, I agree that a 3% increase is marginal and worth the benefits.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Scaling up
Elizabeth M   9/16/2013 4:08:18 AM
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These are all really good points, Nadine. There could be such a thing as too much flexibility. I don't know how many people would feel comfortable on a bridge that is noticeably swaying (I personally never felt bridges like the Golden Gate sway and I think that's the point--they do, but you can't feel it). But I think with testing and perfecting of the material these issues could be addressed.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Scaling up
Elizabeth M   9/16/2013 4:10:37 AM
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Thanks, Chuck. I do think this is quite a significant breakthrough as well. And having lived in SF and felt several earthquakes there (not Lomo Prieta, though) and also here in Portugal, where I live now (which is also prone to quakes), I think anything that can keep structures safer without being too much of a financial burden is a good thing.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Scaling up
Elizabeth M   9/16/2013 4:11:26 AM
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Good question on the corrosion issue, TJ. I would have to check on that, I don't know off the top of my head.

Critic
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Cost
Critic   9/16/2013 9:32:13 AM
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3% seems like a low figure.  I am willing to bet that this material is much more expensive than steel.  What is the source of the cost information?

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Believe that & I'll sell you a bridge....
OLD_CURMUDGEON   9/16/2013 9:58:50 AM
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3%?????  Ask any decent machinist or toolmaker how easy it is to work with nickel and/or titanium, and he'll bend your ear for hours. 

As a layperson in this discussion, but having some awareness of fabricating items from these metals, it is very difficult for me to digest ONLY a 3% increase in cost.

Look at some of the recent major road/tunnel/bridge projects in the U.S., most notably, the "Big Dig" in the Boston area.  The total cost ballooned to about 100 times the original estimate.  Can't believe that the cost of using exotic materials for bridges / structures won't also incur massive cost overruns....

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