Engineers re-create tsunami debris impacts to measure their force – Science Nation

♫MUSIC♫ MILES O’BRIEN: In a tsunami, devastation is created by far more than the wave itself. Debris that hits homes and other structures plays a huge role in a tsunami’s destructive power. But until now, engineers could only guess at the forces at work when debris like a floating telephone pole hits a house. [IMPACT TESTS] With support from the National Science Foundation, engineers from across the country have teamed up to design and carry out a series of large-scale tests aimed at better understanding exactly what happens when debris strikes. CLAY NAITO: The research project is essentially looking at the types of debris that would be in a typical tsunami environment and what forces are being generated from that. MILES O’BRIEN: On the day we visited, structural engineer Clay Naito and his team at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania were conducting a test on a new type of blast resistant wall. But, recently this test facility was transformed into Tsunami Central. The idea – recreate full-scale debris strikes, and record exactly what happens. They started with 20 foot telephone poles – then moved on to a five thousand pound shipping container. CLAY NAITO: And, the goal here was to try and figure out the forces that were being generated at different impact velocities. So we do a quick release on the end and it hits the load cells. MILES O’BRIEN: Key to the test was the measuring device, called a load cell, that recorded the impact data. CLAY NAITO: The impact you might have forces as high as half a million pounds that could occur in a very, very short duration of maybe 100th of a second. It shows the impact event at the bottom as we impact the load cells. MILES O’BRIEN: Naito and his colleagues used the data to validate computer models designed to predict how different types of debris respond under the stress of impact. The ultimate goal – to use the lessons learned through these tests to establish new design standards and building codes. CLAY NAITO: We’re able to then take those properties and come up with an estimate of what force the structural engineer needs to design the building for. So within a couple of years everything we have learned should be applied and should be required of all building design. MILES O’BRIEN: It just goes to show – for engineers, it never hurts to be AWASH in data. For Science Nation, I’m Miles O’Brien.

1 thought on “Engineers re-create tsunami debris impacts to measure their force – Science Nation

  1. A universal modular strain sensor for steel and concrete
    Acousto elastic concrete strain sensors are used to detect the metrological
    Elongation or compression of steel building components as well as for measurements in reinforced and unreinforced concrete bodies used. The thickness of the sensor (diameter of the bolts) may be selected according to the strength reinforcement.

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