PITA Fiscal Year 2015 Projects

TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

Transit service performance analysis and bunching detection using automatic passenger counters (APC) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) data
PI: Sean Qian, Heinz College
Co-PI: Afsaneh Doryab, Robotics Institute

Automated vehicle location (AVL) systems and automatic passenger counters (APCs) have been widely adopted in the transit industry to collect high-resolution passenger and vehicle information. Though they hold great potentials to improve system performance, little effort has been made to fully utilize the data to understand travelers’ behavior and optimize transit operations. The essential idea of this research is to fully utilize the big data in public transit to provide travelers fine-grained customizable information regarding transit service performance (efficiency, reliability and quality), and to facilitate decision making for transit agencies.

We propose efficient algorithms to measure transit service performance using AVL and APC data in various perspectives, including bus travel time ratio to car travel time, excessive waiting time, crowding, bunching, park-and-ride information, and incidents. A full set of customizable performance measures in different levels of temporal and spatial granularity will be provided. Bunching, the most critical issue in bus transit service, can be detected by examining excessive waiting time and crowding factors of sequential bus trips. In addition, we explore the most promising performance measures related to the bus ridership and bunching, and optimize bus schedules to improve service performance and increase ridership. We propose to develop a Transit Service Performance Information and Optimization system (TranSEPIO), which embeds those algorithms of performance measures and data analytics for decision making of both travelers and agencies. TranSEPIO is a generic platform that can be deployed to meet the specific need of any transit agencies.

Our research and initial development of TranSEPIO will fully incorporate the rich data sets provided from Port Authority of Allegheny County (PACC). A prototype version of TranSEPIO for PACC is the expected outcome of this research.


HES Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) Innovation - Beta Test Evaluation and Research Feedback
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: John Fox, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: H. Robert Gustafson, Jr., Enterprise Systems Center
PA Industry: Hunsicker Emission Services

Recent EPA regulation requires diesel engine manufacturers to filter fine particle pollution from engine exhaust. This has led to the development of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) technology, currently installed on 1.7 million on-road trucks and buses in the US. This has also created the need for a new industry to clean/recondition DPF filters, which are designed to last the lifetime of the engine, but require routine removal of non-combusted carbon (soot) and fuel/lubricant inorganic additive residue (ash) to achieve full useful life.

The current DPF cleaning process consists of using compressed air blowing out typically cost the owner two or more days in lost operating revenue, particularly for hard to clean filters. Hunsicker Emissions Services LLC is currently developing an innovative, data driven process technology to clean the DPF filters faster, and more efficiently, while using 50% less energy.

The significant improvent in process efficiency will create a PA based industry providing the only same-day DPF cleaning option, regardless of the level of DPF cleaning required, currently only offered through much more costly filter replacement.

The process technology will increase efficiency of transportation and construction industries in PA by improving fuel economy, reducing vehicle downtime and extending vehicle operation between cleanings. The data driven process will also provide fleet managers with prescriptive feedback for managing future DPF maintenance intervals.


Sustainability-Based Life-Cycle Performance and Cost Analysis of Highway Bridges: Emphasis on Steel Bridges
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Dan M. Frangopol, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: ArcelorMittal

Steel and concrete bridges under aggressive environmental effects require frequent inspection, maintenance and repair activities to extend their service life and maintain an adequate performance level. In addition to the direct maintenance and inspection costs, these interventions may result in indirect costs associated with traffic delays and their economic, social, and environmental effects. These effects, if considered by using their monetary value, significantly affect the life-cycle cost of the bridge under consideration. Moreover, these deteriorating bridges become very vulnerable under extreme events (e.g., earthquakes and hurricanes). The use of more sustainable materials, such as maintenance-free steel, may increase the initial cost of the structure; however, the life-cycle cost, including maintenance, repair and inspection actions along the service life and their associated indirect effects, can be reduced. Therefore, an integrated approach is required to establish the optimum design alternative while considering life-cycle interventions. This project develops a sustainability-based framework to evaluate the life-cycle performance and cost of bridges. Emphasis will be placed on steel bridges which represent more than 30% of the bridges in Pennsylvania.

Outcomes of this project include (a) optimum choice of the bridge construction material based on he location in order to maximize sustainability, and (b) optimum intervention schedule to simultaneously maximize the service life and minimize the life-cycle cost considering traffic disruptions and thier associated impacts. Outcomes from this project are relevant to the management of the Nation's steel bridge infrastructure, and so should provide significant economic and social benefits to Pennsylvania. Companies such as ArcelorMittal will benefit from this project by using a life-cycle cost model that will clearly indicate the economic advantages of new solutions for steel bridges in terms of material and configuration which provide maintenance-free service during the whole bridge lifetime.

Fabrication Efficiency of Large Built-up Sections Using Electroslag Welding
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sougata Roy, ATLSS Engineering Research Center
PA Industry: High Steel Structures

This collaborative research project between Lehigh University and High Steel Structures will demonstrate the effectiveness of using improved narrow gap Electroslag welding (ESW-NG) process for fabricating built-up sections, such as large connection angles, for steel bridges with limited distortion. Traditionally, these built-up sections are fabricated using multi-pass Flux-Core Arc Welding (FCAW) or Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) processes, which introduce significant distortion in the built-up member. As a result, additional post-weld heat straightening is necessary to correct the distortion. Using the fully automated ESW-NG process, however, the built-up members can be fabricated in a single weld pass along the length of the member which practically eliminates distortion of the built-up member and increases fabrication efficiency by 5 to 10 folds. However, due to less than desirable performance of traditional ESW in the 1960’s and 70’s, some skepticism exists among bridge owners such as PennDOT, regarding the performance of the welded connections made by the ESW process, although the improved ESW-NG process developed based on research sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the 1980’s and 90’s adequately addressed the concerns. Moreover, recent testing performed by leading steel bridge fabricators have indicated that the resulting limitations on use of this highly efficient process may be unnecessary. These restrictions, stifle the competitive advantage of High Steel, a Pennsylvania based nationally renowned steel bridge fabricator, who has invested to make ESW-NG as the mainstream process for increased productivity and efficiency. The results of the proposed research will benefit Pennsylvania economy by: enabling a state business to be efficient, productive and competitive, have improved sales and growth potential; reduced cost of building bridge infrastructure in the state; and the state’s economic growth in terms of creating new jobs, increased revenue, investment for further technology development, and retention of quality educated labor in the state.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Test-aware, Process-aware Design for Manufacturing of Integrated Circuits
PI: C. Fred Higgs, III, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PI: Shawn Blanton, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The relentless scaling of semiconductor integrated circuits (IC) and the move to next-generation IC materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene pose formidable challenges to the IC manufacturing community. As the IC manufacturing process becomes more and more complex, its interaction with the design becomes much less predictable. As a result, certain IC layout features are more difficult to manufacture than others and thus have an increased likelihood of failure. Unlike random defects caused by clean-room contamination, defects due to design-process interactions are “systematic” in nature.

The IC manufacturing processes, such as lithography, electrodeposition, and chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) are required to achieve nanofabrication but introduce systematic defects on various ICs. Currently, IC defects are mitigated by one-way communication from the manufacturing and process level back up to the IC design level in the form of design rules or constraints. The complexity of this leads to overly conservative IC designs and shifts some of the burden to innovate and improve away from the manufacturing level. Thus, we propose to develop a “process-aware”, “test-aware” design analysis methodology for identifying IC design features that are susceptible to process-induced failure while also identifying which design feature are likely to fail due to the manufacturing process.

Therefore, the overall goal of the proposed work is to assemble researchers from the Carnegie Mellon’s ECE and ME departments and a Pennsylvania company— PDF Solutions— to research and develop a computational framework that leverages advanced IC test methodologies to identify design features that will not sufficiently yield. This approach aims to diagnose the cause of IC failure, to find the threedimensional location of the failure, and to uncover actionable information as to which design features are adversely affected by the process, in a way that may lead to IC failure. Not only does this work offer breakthrough improvements in IC design and manufacturing, it will enable several PA companies to improve their technical capabilities and ultimately product and/or service offerings.

Transit service performance analysis and bunching detection using automatic passenger counters (APC) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) data
PI: Sean Qian, Heinz College
Co-PI: Afsaneh Doryab, Robotics Institute

Automated vehicle location (AVL) systems and automatic passenger counters (APCs) have been widely adopted in the transit industry to collect high-resolution passenger and vehicle information. Though they hold great potentials to improve system performance, little effort has been made to fully utilize the data to understand travelers’ behavior and optimize transit operations. The essential idea of this research is to fully utilize the big data in public transit to provide travelers fine-grained customizable information regarding transit service performance (efficiency, reliability and quality), and to facilitate decision making for transit agencies.

We propose efficient algorithms to measure transit service performance using AVL and APC data in various perspectives, including bus travel time ratio to car travel time, excessive waiting time, crowding, bunching, park-and-ride information, and incidents. A full set of customizable performance measures in different levels of temporal and spatial granularity will be provided. Bunching, the most critical issue in bus transit service, can be detected by examining excessive waiting time and crowding factors of sequential bus trips. In addition, we explore the most promising performance measures related to the bus ridership and bunching, and optimize bus schedules to improve service performance and increase ridership. We propose to develop a Transit Service Performance Information and Optimization system (TranSEPIO), which embeds those algorithms of performance measures and data analytics for decision making of both travelers and agencies. TranSEPIO is a generic platform that can be deployed to meet the specific need of any transit agencies.

Our research and initial development of TranSEPIO will fully incorporate the rich data sets provided from Port Authority of Allegheny County (PACC). A prototype version of TranSEPIO for PACC is the expected outcome of this research.


A Cost-effective Accurate and Resilient Indoor Positioning System
PIs: Anthony Rowe, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Bruno Sinopoli, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PIs: Burcu Akinci, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Anind Dey, HCI

This project aims at developing a cost effective, accurate and resilient indoor localization service to be used in built environments. Unlike existing methods, the proposed method will achieve high accuracy and robustness with respect to disruptions while maintaining low installation and maintenance costs. To achieve these goals the team has devised a system that relies upon several range-free and range-based trilateration techniques to increase accuracy and resilience and an implementation plan that piggybacks on much of the existing infrastructure in typical built environments, namely, audio, light and RF-based communication to minimize installation cost. The partnership will employ a cloud-based architecture to deliver and manage the service where storage and most of the computation will reside in the back-end. The smartphone will act as a relay with the back-end for ranging information and will perform fusion between the relatively low frequency (about 1Hz) position estimate coming from the cloud and the potentially higher one (10Hz) based on inertial data coming from phone, resembling the common GPS-INS (Inertial Navigation System) common in outdoor navigation systems. The proposed location service system targets large indoor facilities owners and managers, such as shopping malls, warehouses, airports, office building etc. The technology could be used in facilities employing a large number of automated mobile robots such as Kiva Systems, because of its capability to perform tracking. Through a partnership with the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh, we have the unique opportunity to deploy and test our platform in the Lawrence David Convention Center in downtown.


A Secure, High Performance System Interconnect Architecture for Next Generation Data Centers
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Jing (Tiffany) Li, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PI: Xiaolei Huang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
PA Industry: Accipiter Systems

The number of cloud computing, big data, web, distributed data processing and data warehousing applications that we access progressively more wirelessly from our phones and computers continue to grow and expand into every aspect of our lives. Yet the networking infrastructures that host these applications and support these mobile users are in their infancy. These nascent systems are easily targeted by cyber-attacks. Obsolescence of early protocols such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and its networking equipment has degraded network performance. With the likelihood of other protocols going obsolete, new networking solutions are needed that are both secure and more resistant to obsolescence. The new networking advancements will enable new capabilities such as hetergeneous data centers which offer not just rows and rows of server racks with their uniform amounts of processing and memory to host applications but infrastructures with combinations of servers, graphical processing processors, and accelerators with asymmetrical amounts of memory and processors that allow us to implement data centers more cost and energy efficiently. These new infrastructures will dramatically improve the user experience: reductions to delivery times of streaming video, financial transactions times, and access times to cloud hosted user data. This project investigates the performance characteristics of a novel, next generation, secure, computer networking product based on PCI Express technology. Client software developed on this program is installed and operates on early versions of the product. With the completion of this critical project, further Government and private funding is anticipated and ultimately, sale of the equipment to end users. The introduction of a new computer networking technology and products has been proven to drive considerable job creation, up to 2,000 high-tech, high-paying jobs. Pennsylvania has a very unique history of past computer networking business successes in the state. This project seeds a related next generation commercial opportunity. 


Filtering Packet Delay Variations in Wireless Backhaul Networks for Precise Time Distribution
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Rick Blum, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PI: Shalinee Kishore, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
PA Industry: Avago

Over the last decade, mobile backhaul networks have increasingly become packet-switched in nature, owing to the growing mobile data demands of end-users. In order to support the ubiquitous deployment of 4G cell towers, it is necessary for these backhaul networks to also help provide microsecond-level time synchronization between cell towers. To this end, time synchronization techniques based on the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) are being studied in the context of packet-switched mobile backhaul networks. A drawback of packet-switched networks is that they suffer from unpredictable network traversal times, a phenomenon referred to as Packet Delay Variation (PDV). It is very important to combat the effects of PDV since it can severely degrade the accuracy of packet-based synchronization. The proposed research aims to develop such PDV cancellation techniques. Under two previous PITA grants, the statistical nature of PDV was studied under many different network conditions, theoretical performance limits for PDV cancellation were derived, and new PDV cancellation methods were developed. The proposed research will involve the further development and refinement of these PDV cancellation methods. Methods to automatically adapt these methods to changing network conditions will also be studied. New challenges, including synchronization using multiple time sources, and improving the robustness of synchronization against malicious attacks will also be studied.The efficiency of the proposed schemes will be tested via simulations and their implementations will be optimized for ARM processors. The project is a collaboration between the Lehigh team and the System Architecture Group at the Avago Technologies facilities in Allentown, PA. Avago Technologies is an electronics company that develops network technology.


FACILITIES


WATER SYSTEMS

Optimized Multiscale/Multiphenomena Modeling of Membrane Distillation Process for Water Treatment

PI: Lorenz Biegler, Chemical Engineering
Co-PIs: Meagan S. Mauter, Chemical Engineering/Engineering and Public Policy and Myung S. Jhon, Chemical Engineering

In this proposal, we develop a novel multiscale simulation methodology for nanotechnology convergence in the sustainable energy-water nexus. Water purification via membrane distillation (MD) process is chosen as benchmark example, which has great potential to be used in a broad range of applications including power, petrochemicals, oil & gas, as well as salt water distillation. The MD performance will be rigorously simulated via seamlessly integrating atomistic/molecular/meso/macro time and length scales and hybridizing with optimization methodologies. We will adopt a novel middle-out approach in the multiscale modeling by focusing on computationally efficient mesoscale lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) as the centerpiece. LBM will accurately simulate the multiphenomena occurring at microscale for the porous geometries in the membrane including phase change, Knudsen/molecular diffusion, and micro/nano scale heat transfer. Unlike conventional models that simplify the porous structure, leading to overestimates of the performance, our novel computational contribution based on LBM scheme provides accurate design criteria for MD material selection including porosity, thermal conductivity & diffusivity, pore size, and thickness. Furthermore, by combining optimization tools with a complete multiscale approach, we can provide molecular design criteria of the key parameters such as the omniphobicity of the MD material that allows maximum flux in the membrane. In addition, we can use inverse approaches for prediction of new molecularly architectured materials which actively prevent fouling and scaling and can be used in a wide range of water chemistries, as well as temperatures and pressures. The resulting software will provide a ground-breaking and versatile design tool that can reduce immense time and monetary resources spent in experimentally identifying the optimal materials at the molecular level. The success of this benchmark example will provide valuable input to the rapidly growing wastewater treatment industry in Pennsylvania and can also be applied to other nanotechnology convergent areas including energy and sustainability.


Assessment of Alternative Water Management Infrastructure Strategies for Natural Gas Extraction Across Cost, Water Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
PI: W. Michael Griffin
Co-PI: H. Scott Matthews, CEE/EPP and Paul Fischbeck, Social and Decision Sciences

Shale gas development is water intensive, requiring 2-3 million gallons of water per well, and discharge of “used” water to waterways can be environmentally problematic. Consideration of the cost and environmental effectiveness for various strategies for water use is a critical need for the region.

This proposed project, collaborative between CMU, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE), and XTO Energy Inc., will create an improved modeling tool for considering alternative uses of water infrastructure associated with unconventional natural gas operations (e.g., shale gas) over it’s life cycle. CMU will build on a rough internal model created by EMRE, and working with XTO Energy (a Pennsylvania (PA) Marcellus operating company), will further develop the modeling framework to include economic costs, water use considerations, such as water treatment technologies, water quality goals required for re-use, disposal or alternative uses, and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the various strategies. The goal is a robust decision support tool that can be used by companies in the Marcellus region such as XTO Energy to balance environmental considerations with economic factors when managing water use at the extraction site.

We will work with XTO and EMRE to further consider the literature associated with unconventional natural gas associated water use and use this information to add depth and expand both the quality and scope of the model. This will make the model more broadly applicable to the corporate decision making process. The expanded framework will include new opportunities for underground injection, use and re-use strategies, and treatment technologies. The overall decision process will include robust consideration of uncertainties. The resulting model can be used to build organizational awareness of options and support strategic decision making regarding the value of water treatment, reuse and disposal options. The modeling will lead to cost-effective solutions that can be further developed and commercialized to protect local resources and the environment.


Lab-Scale and Pilot-Scale Testing of Antimicrobial Granular Activated Carbon
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Derick G. Brown, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: John T. Fox, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: Evoqua Water Technologies

Granular activated carbon (GAC) is a hydrophobic material that has a very high surface area to volume ratio, and because of these properties, it is routinely used to remove contaminants from water through the process of sorption. GAC systems are ubiquitous in water treatment, and common applications include small-scale household water treatment filters, large-scale municipal water treatment plants, and specialty high-purity water sytesms for manufacturing and scientific applications. One concern with GAC is that it can serve as a solid surface for the growth of bacterial biofilms. These biofilms may add benefit to the treatment of the water, as is the case with fluidized-bed bioreactors, or they can be a detriment, as is the case when using GAC for treatment of drinking water. For this latter case, GAC exhibiting antimicrobial properties is desirable; as long as the active antimicrobial components don’t themselves act as a contaminant to the system. Unfortunately, there is limited data on the innate antimicrobial properties of activated carbon. While there have been efforts focused on impregnating antimicrobial chemicals, such as silver, into the GAC, these GACs are not favorable for drinking water treatment due to leaching of the antimicrobial chemicals into the water. As such, there remains a demonstrated need to develop a passively-antimicrobial GAC that does not impact the water quality.

Evoqua Water Technologies and Lehigh University has initiated a collaboration to address this issue and develop a passive antimicrobial GAC. This collaboration combines Evoqua's activated carbon expertise and manufacturing capabilities with Lehigh's expertise in environmental biotechnology. The basis for this current effort is a hypothesis developed at Lehigh that describes how the addition of certain acid/base functional groups on a surface can result in a passive surface with antimicrobial properties. Using simple batch respirometer experiments, our team has demonstrated that GAC modified with weak- and strong-base functional groups shows promise to reduce bacterial colonization and biofilm formation on the GAC surface. The work proposed herein will move the system to the pilot-scale with the goal of demonstrating reduced bacterial colonization in long-term GAC flow-through columns. This project strengthens the collaborative effort between Evoqua and Lehigh University and will lead to a validated scientific framework for producing antimicrobial activated carbon.


Design of an Ion Monitoring Device for Marine Environments
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sabrina Jedlicka, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Co-PI: Susan Perry, Department of Chemical Engineering
PA Industry: EcoTech Marine

A great deal of international attention has been focused at sustaining the health of the world’s marine environments. There are multiple motivating factors driving this increased attention, including environmental protection, food production and economic viability of developing nations, and recreation, among others. Marine water chemistry is considered relatively static with regards to ionic balances, but increasingly, these balances are at risk. For many of the marine ecosystems in nature, disruption of pH and other ionic species can lead to organism demise. While widespread control of seawater chemistry in nature is not practical with current technology, the act of developing an understanding of these dynamics could lead to long-term environmental protection solutions. Therefore, routine monitoring of ocean chemistry could provide data that could be correlated to species diversity, animal health, and overall chemical trends in the ocean environment. The long-term goal of the proposed PITA project is to develop an effective means to monitor seawater ionic balances in an autonomous, continuous manner in a controlled marine environment (aquaculture facility, aquarium, environmental test bed, etc.). The short-term goal associated with this one-year PITA award is to design a set of sensing materials that can detect ion concentration in seawater in a reversible, robust fashion. These materials will then further be implemented into a prototype design for testing and deployment in an enclosed marine system. Future project development would then focus on developing multiple devices for different applications, including: aquaculture farm management, commercial aquariums, home aquariums, researchers, and ultimately large-scale environmental monitoring.


ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Optimized Multiscale/Multiphenomena Modeling of Membrane Distillation Process for Water Treatment

PI: Lorenz Biegler, Chemical Engineering
Co-PIs: Meagan S. Mauter, Chemical Engineering/Engineering and Public Policy and Myung S. Jhon, Chemical Engineering

In this proposal, we develop a novel multiscale simulation methodology for nanotechnology convergence in the sustainable energy-water nexus. Water purification via membrane distillation (MD) process is chosen as benchmark example, which has great potential to be used in a broad range of applications including power, petrochemicals, oil & gas, as well as salt water distillation. The MD performance will be rigorously simulated via seamlessly integrating atomistic/molecular/meso/macro time and length scales and hybridizing with optimization methodologies. We will adopt a novel middle-out approach in the multiscale modeling by focusing on computationally efficient mesoscale lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) as the centerpiece. LBM will accurately simulate the multiphenomena occurring at microscale for the porous geometries in the membrane including phase change, Knudsen/molecular diffusion, and micro/nano scale heat transfer. Unlike conventional models that simplify the porous structure, leading to overestimates of the performance, our novel computational contribution based on LBM scheme provides accurate design criteria for MD material selection including porosity, thermal conductivity & diffusivity, pore size, and thickness. Furthermore, by combining optimization tools with a complete multiscale approach, we can provide molecular design criteria of the key parameters such as the omniphobicity of the MD material that allows maximum flux in the membrane. In addition, we can use inverse approaches for prediction of new molecularly architectured materials which actively prevent fouling and scaling and can be used in a wide range of water chemistries, as well as temperatures and pressures. The resulting software will provide a ground-breaking and versatile design tool that can reduce immense time and monetary resources spent in experimentally identifying the optimal materials at the molecular level. The success of this benchmark example will provide valuable input to the rapidly growing wastewater treatment industry in Pennsylvania and can also be applied to other nanotechnology convergent areas including energy and sustainability.

Investigating Thermal Performance through Geometric and Thermochromic Variations of Modular Ultra High Performance Concrete Thermal Mass System for Energy Savings in Buildings
PI: Dana Cupkova, School of Architecture
Co-PI: Shi-Chune Yao, Mechanical Engineering

About 60% of accumulative US energy consumption comes from buildings’ energy usage. The primary source of such high energy loads stems from overuse of mechanical systems for heating and cooling. Our project focuses on mitigating this overuse by suggesting a new way of thinking about passive systems, and expanding the possibilities of thermal mass and Trombe wall principles in building design.

Thermal mass systems work on the basic principle of short wave radiation conversion to sensible heat. In the winter,significant energy savings can be achieved using well-calibrated direct storage of solar radiative energy during the day and its timely release in the evening. In the summer, the mass storage can even out temperature peaks and delay the re-radiation of heat. However, the basic guidelines for thermal mass dictate its configuration: adjacent to the south-facing façade coupled with glazing, while sealing off the hot air. This typically results in unappealing designs, completely blocking the sunlight and views from the rest of the space, and thus renders it to be generally not a well-accepted application.

In collaboration with TAKTL, a company that developed Ultra High Performance Concrete integrated with mold design and architectural element manufacturing, our project proposes to investigate a new modular thermal mass system. This new design will use high strength concrete cast walls of narrow thickness (2-6”) coupled with artistic surface patterning and ports for light penetration. In conjunction with the geometric pattern, we will use a liquid crystal surface treatment with temperature-controlled color changes to further enhance the overall effect. This project is built on previously validated research proving that well-calibrated complex geometries can be used to improve both the aesthetic and thermodynamic performance of passive heating and cooling systems, and buildings’ overall energy performance.

The design and optimization process will be conducted using advanced computational tools, digital and physical simulation and thermal modeling of the complex geometric wall patterns to classify per pattern solar heating and energy release performance, thus enabling TAKTL to develop a new product line and expand its market.


Wireless (inductively-coupled) ultrasonics to identify erosion defects in frac iron components
PI: David W. Greve, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PI: Irving J. Oppenheim, Civil and Environmental Engineering

“Frac iron” refers to piping components that are configured at the wellhead to inject and control the flow of fracture fluid. Frac iron operates at extreme levels of fluid pressure, and the fracture fluid rapidly erodes interior surfaces because of abrasive particles impacting the steel at high speed. Operation of frac iron presents serious potential hazards, which the industry limits by inspecting components at short time intervals. Detecting deep erosion losses in spatially complex frac iron components is a highest-priority need voiced by the industry. Our group has conducted full-scale laboratory studies on sample components and on equivalent laboratory specimens, yielding a clear relationship with the depth of the erosion volume. Moreover, our transducers have been developed and tested for novel inductively-coupled (wireless) operation, based upon a technology that our group developed earlier. Our laboratory tests show that the wireless configuration is as effective as a conventional cabled installation. The proposed work involves testing the wireless transducer configuration on a greater range of frac iron components, developing the signal processing methods for a more complete sample of erosion defects, and testing transducer configurations to be best suited for development into a commercial product.


Assessment of Alternative Water Management Infrastructure Strategies for Natural Gas Extraction Across Cost, Water Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
PI: W. Michael Griffin
Co-PI: H. Scott Matthews, CEE/EPP and Paul Fischbeck, Social and Decision Sciences

Shale gas development is water intensive, requiring 2-3 million gallons of water per well, and discharge of “used” water to waterways can be environmentally problematic. Consideration of the cost and environmental effectiveness for various strategies for water use is a critical need for the region.

This proposed project, collaborative between CMU, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE), and XTO Energy Inc., will create an improved modeling tool for considering alternative uses of water infrastructure associated with unconventional natural gas operations (e.g., shale gas) over it’s life cycle. CMU will build on a rough internal model created by EMRE, and working with XTO Energy (a Pennsylvania (PA) Marcellus operating company), will further develop the modeling framework to include economic costs, water use considerations, such as water treatment technologies, water quality goals required for re-use, disposal or alternative uses, and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the various strategies. The goal is a robust decision support tool that can be used by companies in the Marcellus region such as XTO Energy to balance environmental considerations with economic factors when managing water use at the extraction site.

We will work with XTO and EMRE to further consider the literature associated with unconventional natural gas associated water use and use this information to add depth and expand both the quality and scope of the model. This will make the model more broadly applicable to the corporate decision making process. The expanded framework will include new opportunities for underground injection, use and re-use strategies, and treatment technologies. The overall decision process will include robust consideration of uncertainties. The resulting model can be used to build organizational awareness of options and support strategic decision making regarding the value of water treatment, reuse and disposal options. The modeling will lead to cost-effective solutions that can be further developed and commercialized to protect local resources and the environment.


Computational Methods for Enterprise-wide Optimization: Shale Gas Supply Chains and Demand-side Management for Electric Power
PI: Ignacio E. Grossmann, Chemical Engineering
Co-PI: Nikolaos Sahinidis, Chemical Engineering and Mark Daichendt, Chemical Engineering

The program on Enterprise-wide Optimization (EWO) at the Center for Advanced Process Decisionmaking (CAPD) is aimed at developing mathematical models for optimizing the supply, manufacturing and distribution operations in process industries to reduce costs and inventories with some of its recent focus being in the area of energy. The program currently involves eleven companies.

Ultrasonic detection of defects in “clad steel” materials for oil and gas pressure vessels
PI: Irving J. Oppenheim, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Jose M.F. Moura, Electrical and Computer Engineering

“Clad steel” is a high-value product consisting of a thick carbon steel structural plate bonded to a somewhat thinner corrosion resistant alloy (CRA) plate, used to construct pressure vessels that are essential to the production of oil and gas, with similar applications throughout industry. The CRA resists the chemically aggressive environment on the interior of the vessel, but cannot prevent the development of corrosion losses and cracks that limit the continued safe operation of such vessels. At present there are no practical methods to detect such defects from the exposed outer surface of the thick carbon steel plate. The significance of this problem to the oil and gas industry is exemplified by the following description issued by BP: “Current NDT techniques cannot provide imaging and analysis of the inner stainless steel clad from the outside of the vessel. Therefore it is common practice to internally inspect the vessels visually, which involves isolating, cleaning, washing the vessel (that is, removing it from service), and then putting inspection engineers inside the confined space.” The proposed research will detect scatterers on the (inner) CRA layer using ultrasonic transducers applied only to the outer surface of the carbon steel layer. Complex propagation effects have prevented other researchers (both in industry and in universities) from accomplishing that goal, but the CMU research team has developed and demonstrated signal processing methods that use the wave complexity to great advantage. The proposed technical approach is centered on laboratory experimental studies to be performed on new clad steel test specimens, which are being provided by a Pennsylvania industry contributor.


Characterizing Methane, VOC, and HAP Emissions from Natural Gas Production Activities using Mobile Laboratories equipped with Real-Time Sampling and Analysis Technology
PI: Albert Presto, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PI: Allen Robinson, Mechanical Engineering and R. Subramanian, Mechanical Engineering

The Marcellus Shale boom is radically changing the economy and landscape of Pennsylvania, however its impacts on both the regional and global environment are poorly characterized. The shale boom also presents an opportunity to environmental services companies, as future regulations on the natural gas industry may require producers to measure and control methane and hydrocarbon emissions. This project will combine the mobile laboratory capabilities of the CMU Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS) and RJ Lee Group (RJLG) to investigate emissions from natural gas infrastructure in the Marcellus Shale region and to demonstrate the ability of mobile laboratories to perform regulatory-level emissions monitoring. The goals of the project are (1) measure emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), from shale gas production and processing activities and methane super emitters, (2) perform inverse modeling of mobile data to identify methane super emitters, and (3) evaluate and assess real time data generated by the mobile laboratories against EPA reference methods. The results of this project will allow CAPS to develop modeling tools that will benefit both shale gas and air quality research at CMU as well as add new capacity to identify methane super emitters in Pennsylvania. The project will also validate the RJLG mobile laboratory for use in investigating emissions from shale gas operations.


Intermediate temperature fuel cells for fuel production from gaseous hydrocarbons: Benzene to Phenol
PI: Venkat Viswanathan, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PI: Jay Whitacre, Materials Science and Engineering

Intermediate temperature fuel cells (ITFCs) that can convert natural gas or other hydrocarbons into liquid fuels using excess renewable energy can enable a more distributed electricity generation. Typical high temperature solid oxide fuel cells result in complete oxidation of hydrocarbons into H2O and CO2. However, intermediate temperatures could enable partial oxidation of gaseous hydrocarbons into liquid fuels. Some examples could include conversion of methane into methanol, ethers, or benzene into phenol etc. The proposed research involves developing materials (electrodes and compatible electrolytes) for an all solid-state fuel cell that has the capability to convert benzene to phenol. We will develop electrode/electrolyte combinations using density functional theory calculations for the electrochemical conversion of benzene to phenol and these predictions will be tested in a single-cell microtubular solid-state fuel cell with the help of our industry partner. This particular use of an electrochemical cell likens it to a small-scale gas-to-liquids reactor (GTL).


Optimal Reactor Design for Continuous Biodiesel Production
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: James T. Hsu, Department of Chemical Engineering
Co-PI: Lori Herz, Department of Chemical Engineering
PA Industry: Supercritical Solutions

The objective of this project is to develop a multiphase fixed bed reactor with the goal of achieving continuous biodiesel production. An important aspect of multiphase fixed-bed reactors is the hydrodynamics within the fixed bed, defined as the movement of the two phases through the packing which fills the reactor. The packing of a fixed bed is immobile. The packing can either be solid or porous particles. In the liquid-liquid transesterification reaction for biodiesel production, the packing will be inert, nonporous glass beads. the hydrodynamics of these systems are important as they greatly affect mass and heat transfer phenomena,the pressure drop through the reactor, solid wetting and phase hold-up. In this project, the tubular packed-bed flow reactor will be evaluated for the transesterification reaction yield. Also, the inhibition effect caused by the by-product glycerol on the transesterification reaction will be investigated. The optimal configuration of the continuous flow reactor, which will have the best reaction conversion yield, the most stable transient temperature and pressure range, and effective and efficient preheating process, will be determined in this project. Also, significant agitation is required to achieve the high conversion of transesterification reaction.


Energy Efficient Cryogenic Adsorption Process
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: James T. Hsu, Lehigh University
Co-PI: Lori Herz
PA Industry: Dynalene

Large scale preservation of human organs, biopharmaeuticals, and specialty chemicals, also in the process of liquefaction of natural gas, an energy efficient cryogenic process will be required to reach ultra low temperature. Using liquefied nitrogen as refrigerant in conventional process will require to recover the nitrogen gas and compress it back to liquid phase for recycle with expensive compressor. This approach will consume a lot of energy and nitrogen. Also, this process has to be operated under very high pressure. In this project , a heat transfer liquid based on hydrocarbon compounds will be used for the cryogenic process. The heat transfer liquid has quite favorable thermal properties for heat transfer, especially in ultra low temperature applications, it has a very low freezing temperature of -120 C. However, this temperature is considerably much lower than freezing temperature of water, therefore any water that remains in the heat transfer liquid significantly reduces the performance at ultra low temperature applications caused by the ice formation. Thus, this small fraction of water has to be removed continuously at -100 C. A cyogenic adsorption process based on various zeolite adsorbents to remove water will be tested and developed for large scale commerical cryogenic applications.


Thermofluidic Analysis of a Novel Energy Saving Window Concept
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Justin W. Jaworski, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
Co-PI: Brandon A. Krick, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics

PA Industry: Vitrius Vitrius has developed a novel window treatment to minimize the heat loss to the outdoors via internal, electrical heating of the inner windowpane. However, the benefits of this technology have not yet been addressed from a technical standpoint, with the aim to optimize the energy efficiency of the product. To this end, a series of thermofluid analyses of increasing sophistication will be carried out at Lehigh in conjunction with an experimental program to evaluate the effects of cyclic thermal loading on the integrity of the window structure.

The proposed project will integrate vertically the research of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students will generate publishable research that will benefit the Pennsylvania energy industry.


Lehigh Heavy Forge and Lehigh University - Roll Steel Wear: Is Harder Better?
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Brandon A Krick, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
PA Industry: Lehigh Heavy Forge

The proposed collaborative research program will utilize a multidisciplinary approach to characterize and explore the wear performance of steel relevant to hardened steel rolls produced at Lehigh Heavy Forge. For many years, the steel industry was at the heart of the Pennsylvania economy. Lehigh Heavy Forge is one of the few remaining assets from the Bethlehem Steel era, with large scale forge equipment capable of manufacturing steel work and back-up rolls, imperative to the health of manufacturing in the U.S. and the state of Pennsylvania. Wear of these roll materials is the limiting cause for end of useful life in a steel roll. Reduction of wear can positively impact manufacturing economics, energy consumption and environmental impacts.The primary research goal of this short term research project is to establish methods, experiments and metrics to evaluate the wear of a series of steel alloys for work and backup roll applications. Outcomes of this will include: modified (1) instrument, (2) methods and (3) metrics optimized for characterizing the wear of steels relating to the rolling operation; (4) detailed characterization of a series of hardened steel alloys; (5) mechanistic studies on the wear of steels, that will ultimatelyv lead to materials development for rolling and other manufacturing applications. This industrially relevant, application-driven research will also enable fundamental opportunities for discovery for graduate and undergraduates participating in research at Lehigh University.


Smart Polymer Modified Particles for Environmental Separation and Filtration Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sibel Pamukcu, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Mesut Pervizpour, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Greg Ferguson, Department of Chemistry
PA Industry: Earth Engineering Inc.; Spring House PolyX, LLC; J & M Associates

This project proposes the synthesis, laboratory and field characterization of externally stimulated smart particles that perform on demand as oil water separator, contaminant filter, flow retardant/enhancer. The proposed material and method is expected to provide enhanced control over engineered facilities for sustained treatment, filtration and separation capabilities, particularly applicable to oily wastewaters. The end result is envisioned to be modular “smart sand” or “smart glass bead” packs embedded in the subsurface or placed in a wastewater pond or in the vicinity of civil infrastructure to work as in-situ or ex-situ separator or filter systems.

Currently there are a number of methods and materials available on the market that are used to separate oil and other contaminants from water. The technology development proposed in here falls within this category, but is an advanced method of recovery that makes use of the unique reversible filtering and separation characteristic of the smart polymer coated substrate. The particulate substrate (i.e., sand or glass) is prepared using a state-of-art polymerization technique to graft smart polymer on to the particles. An earlier study at Lehigh University have demonstrated that sand packs synthesized with thermally stimulated polymer change their surface wettability at a critical temperature, which is reversible. When used as an oil-water separator or an environmental filter, this unique feature of externally triggered, reversible surface function is believed to provide significant advantage over existing systems. The filtering and separation properties of the smart sand or glass bead packs can be switched on and off on demand, regenerated and reused in a dynamic environment of spatial and temporal variations.


Development of High Temperature Adhesives Using Hybrid Nanoparticles
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Raymond A. Pearson, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Co-PI: Mohamed El-Aasser, Department of Chemical Engineering
PA Industry: ElectroChemical Company

The goal of this project is to develop a room temperature cured epoxy-based adhesive for high temperature use. The epoxy should have sufficient fracture resistance and ductility to allow use in demanding engineering applications. The key technological enabler in the proposed work is the development of novel hybrid nanoparticles as novel toughening agents for epoxy resins. The performance of these new types of modifiers will be compared to various hybrid nanocomposite formaulations based on commercially available toughening agents.


Progressive Collapse Resistant Building Frames: Precast Concrete Design Solutions
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Spencer Quiel, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Clay Naito, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: J&R Slaw

Implementation of design provisions to achieve progressive collapse resistance invariably leads to an increase in the cost of the structural system. To reduce cost, there has been increasing interest in the construction industry in using structural systems composed of prefabricated concrete elements to achieve progressive collapse resistant design. The results of this project will provide guidance for the implementation of these systems for this application and provide the catalyst for the implementation of new design solutions that improve the economy and efficiency of framed building structures that are designed to resist progressive collapse. Specifically, the proposed project will demonstrate the viability of precast concrete construction for progressive collapse resistance by designing, modeling, and testing connection and element details that can bridge over local damage. Prototype precast framing elements will be provided by an industry partner for experimental testing at the ATLSS Center at Lehigh University. The proposed study will enable the PI’s and their graduate student advisee to spearhead research of a structural system that can enhance safety at a reduced cost. This project leverages the technical strengths of the PI’s and the ATLSS Center to address a recognized need in the precast concrete construction industry.


Field Application of Hybrid Anion Exchange (HAIX) Technology to Mitigate Fluoride and Marcellus Wastewater Crisis
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Arup K. SenGupta, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Todd Watkins, Department of Economics
PA Industry: Purolite; Avo Global

Hybrid Anion Exchange or HAIX technology developed nearly ten years ago is well in use around the world to mitigate arsenic crisis including the USA. Nearly one million people around the world now drink arsenic-safe water through Lehigh University’s HAIX technology. Currently, there are about 400 million people around the world who are exposed to toxic level of fluoride due to natural contamination of groundwater. The contaminated groundwater is very often the only source of drinking water for rural population. In the USA, maximum contaminant level (MCL) of fluoride is expected to be lowered soon in accordance with WHO (World Health Organization) guideline and a market for appropriate technology will immediately emerge as it happened when arsenic MCL was reduced by the USEPA in 2002.

Discovery of naturally occurring Marcellus shale gas and its subsequent extraction offers opportunities for tremendous economic and industrial growth in PA. At the same time, its adverse environmental impact, particularly for our existing water sources, has already raised a major concern and, in many locations, a public outcry. Our water sources are stressed in the two following ways: first, every gas well requires supply of relatively large volume of fresh water for its continued operation of hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking; second, the flow back or produced wastewater being generated during the gas extraction process contains barium and, occasionally, low concentration of radioactive radium and needs safe disposal. Current practices fail to address these two problems.

Our laboratory-scale research has demonstrated that Lehigh University’s HAIX technology can selectively remove i) Fluoride from contaminated groundwater; and ii) Remove Barium and Radium from Marcellus flowback wastewater. Lehigh’s international patent application with USPTO is currently undergoing evaluation.

Two Pennsylvania companies Purolite Co and Avo Global Inc. enthusiastically support the proposal. Purolite will provide ion exchange resins free of charge for field trial after modification. The proposed project will have 2:2 leverage funding through an existing grant from the US department of state.


Silver Nanowire Materials for Advanced Electronic Contacts in Next Generation Energy and Telecommunications Technologies
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Nicholas Strandwitz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Co-PI: Brandon Krick, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
PA Industry: Solvay USA

Solution processed electronic materials offer new functionality and drastically lower cost than traditional materials. Next generation electronic devices for communications and energy conversion present new challenges in functionality, especially in the application of transparent conducting materials. Here we develop a unique team including a materials chemist (Strandwitz), tribologist (Krick), and manufacturer of solution processed silver nanowires (Solvay). In the proposed work we address several key challenges associated with these materials: colloidal stability, electronic properties, and mechanical robustness. The Strandwitz group will utilize novel electrochemical techniques and short-chain surfactants to produce stable solutions of Ag nanowires for robust industrial use. Further, the Strandwitz group will investigate the electronic properties of interfaces between Ag nanowires and other electronic components, which is essential for industrial adoption. In tandem, Krick and Strandwitz, will utilize atomic layer deposition coatings to augment the mechanical strength of the Ag nanowire films. These research efforts will enable more stable solutions of Ag nanowires, an expressed concern of Solvay customers, while characterizing the electronic and tribological properties that are critical to industrial use.


PUBLIC HEALTH AND MEDICINE

Virtual 3D trainers for out-patient palliative care

PI: Phil Campbell, ICES

Hospitals and associated healthcare infrastructure are faced with the challenge of meeting the ever-increasing needs of an increasingly older and frailer population. By 2030, this elderly population will be 72.1 million representing 19% of the population. Ninety million people in the US live with at least one chronic illness. Many of these patients are the elderly with multiple chronic morbidities and undergo extensive periods of illness characterized by intermittent acute and intermittent acute symptom intensification interspersed with periods of relative stability. This often results in enormous stresses on healthcare systems, doctors and other clinical personnel, and patients and their families, as a result of inadequately treated physical distress, a fragmented care system and poor communication. Palliative care will be critical to the solution. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medical specialty with the purpose to prevent and relieve suffering for all stages of disease, often encompassing years of chronic illness, and to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families facing serious illness. Palliative care is increasingly important as increasing numbers of elderly and frail patents are homebound with multiple medical conditions, functional and cognitive impairments. In addition to the patient, their caregivers, many also aged and in ill health, are often unprepared to meet their care responsibilities. And, the stresses often incurred by the caregiver can result in them becoming the “forgotten” patient. Medical simulation training will be essential in insuring successful palliative services intervention. We propose to develop 3D virtual reality game-based training programs that will be the first such trainers for palliative care. The first trainer program will target medical students, nursing students, and clinical staff to improve their assessment skills for the at-home patient. The second program will target educating and training family caregivers.


Lifetime Projection for Next-Generation Medical Implants
PI: Shawn Kelly, ICES

We propose to develop and build a prototype electronic system to test and characterize thin-film coatings used as packaging for next-generation implantable medical devices, such as neural prostheses or retinal prostheses. Existing titanium and ceramic packages use helium leakage rates as a standard method to project the lifetime of the device after implantation, and the FDA strongly favors this type of characterization for every device. Titanium and ceramic packages have reached their technological limitations in terms of feedthrough density and package size, and microfabrication methods are being explored to create packages for next-generation, highchannel-count devices. However, a method of testing these microfabricated coatings is needed.

Research has shown that the impedance of interdigitated electrodes embedded in the package coatings will change as water vapor begins to penetrate the package, and we believe that this impedance shift can be use to predict the failure of the device, and its useful lifetime. Using the standard techniques of cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), we will calculate charge capacity and impedance of the interdigitated electrodes to test various coatings and characterize the lifetime of a device using these coatings. A CMU faculty member and CMU graduate students will perform this work. We will collaborate with a small company that plans to build a design center in Pittsburgh, a major eye hospital, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This team from academia, industry, and government will create the test and characterization system, potentially creating a spinoff company to license the technology.


Enabling the Elderly to Walk: Around the Clock Gait Pattern Monitoring through Ground Vibrations
PI: Hae Young Noh, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Pei Zhang, Electrical and Computer Engineering

A major goal of elder care is to maintain independence of the elderly for as long as possible. This will improve the quality of life for the elderly and reduce costs and capacity needs for care-professionals. The major obstacle in this is the reduction of daily physical activities, which expedites loss of independence, hospitalization, and premature deaths. However, in elder care facilities, however, independent walking is often discouraged, or prohibited. This is due to the issues of safety of elderly and liability and availability of caregivers. Prior works have been focused on fall detection, but most of them are diagnostic rather than preventive. Furthermore, many of them often require special instrumentation on persons, which is intrusive and inconvenient.

In order to address these challenges, we propose to develop a system to sense, identify, and characterize persons’ gait pattern (to understand their ability to walk, tiredness, activity level, dizziness, etc.) on a fine-grained level with non-dedicated building vibration monitoring sensors. The system consists of three modules: sensing, identification, and characterization. The sensing module collects building vibration signals from structural vibration monitoring systems and detects footstep-induced vibrations at a sensor level. This footstep event detection then triggers identification module to identify each person’s footstep based on various features extracted from the signal. The final module conduct a network level analytics to understand the detected person’s status, such as location, walking path, ability to walk, tiredness, and emotional status. This system will inform doctors and caregivers health status of elderlies around the clock, allowing them more chances to walk independently by providing appropriate and necessary services.


Polymer-Based Protein engineering to wire enzymes to electrodes
PIs: Alan Russell, ICES and Islam Mohammad, Materials Science and Engineering

Enzyme-based platforms capable of sensing or deriving electrical power from physiological compounds have been a significant topic of research for many years. Enzymatic biosensors and biofuel cells rely on the specific catalysis of a target compound, such as glucose, at an electrode surface to provide electrons to drive the devices. The exceptional selectivity and specificity of enzymes coupled with their mild operating conditions make these biological catalysts ideal for miniature devices operating under physiological conditions, for example an implantable a biofuel cell using glucose as the fuel could both detect glucose levels and power an implanted insulin pump in an artificial pancreas. In this proposal we address a key limitation suffered by the enzymatic platforms, low power densities resulting from inefficient electron transfer kinetics. We propose to attack this issue from two directions: 1) by altering the surface of the protein to be more conductive; and 2) by developing novel electrodes composed of high surface area carbon materials. The two approaches are derived from work currently underway in the Principle investigators’ labs. The Russell group has developed technologies to grow polymers from protein surfaces. This process, which we call polymer-based protein engineering, will be mused to synthesize protein polymer conjugates in which the polymer is electrically conductive. These polymers would, in essence “wire” the enzyme directly to the electrode surface greatly improving the electron transfer kinetics. The Islam group has been developing novel high surface area low density carbon materials as electrodes. These materials, which use graphene and carbon nanotubes formed as aerogels and hydrogels, are highly conductive and can accommodate binding for sufficiently large amounts of enzyme to provide current densities to power a number of medical devices. The synergy of these two technologies will result in revolutionary detectors and power supplies for the medical devices industry.


Smart Home and Wearable Technology to Maintain Current Stage of Health and to Support Health Transitions
PIs: Asim Smailagic, ICES and Dan Siewiorek, HCII
Co-PI: Kristin Hughes, Design

Smart home and wearable technologies can provide a suite of activities to maintain cognitive and physical health allowing older adults to live independently longer. Bosch and ICES have been developing suites of technologies based on smart sensors and virtual coaches. The health trajectory framework includes three stages of prevention: primary /promoting of well being, secondary / early intervention and tertiary / disease management. Trajectories and preventions exist for both cognitive and physical decline. Primary prevention supports brain health through mental exercise, cognitive engagement, social engagement and stress reduction. Secondary prevention focuses on development of automatic habits (e.g. always return items to the same place after use). Tertiary prevention includes promoting safety, social communication, enhancing memory and supporting daily activities.

A combination of smart stationary home sensors and individual wearable sensors will support each stage and manage the transition between stages. This work builds on Bosch’s smart home technology and ICES’ virtual coach and wearable sensors technology. Both mental and physical trajectories will be supported by a smart space implemented in ICES.


Plasma-based materials as an adjunctive therapy to treat pressure ulcers
PI: Lee Weiss, Robotics Institute
Co-PI: Phil Campbell, ICES

The goal is to develop a cost-effective, highly reliable adjunct therapy to treat pressure ulcers (a.k.a. bedsores and decubitus ulcers), which are injuries to skin and underlying tissues resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Each year more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. develop pressure ulcers, which are accompanied by pain, associated risk for serious infection, high health care costs (~$11 billion per year in the U.S), and, in many cases, death due to sepsis. Older patients are more susceptible to developing ulcers, therefore the number of cases are on the rise as the population ages. The Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2010 Initiative identified pressure ulcers as a national health issue for long-term care, and the Health Care Financing Administration designated pressure ulcers as one of three sentinel events for long-term care. Best practices to treat and/or reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers (e.g., pressure-relieving mattresses, proper nutrition, debridement, regular changes of dressings and patient re-positioning) haven't been sufficient to overcome the ever-increasing socioeconomic burden of this pathology. To improve outcomes, several adjunctive therapies are in development or clinical use. While these therapies show promise, they are relatively costly, have inconsistent outcomes, and none have yet to be adopted as part of standards of care. One such therapy is based on applying autologous plateletrich plasma (aPRP) to ulcers. Outcome variability associated with aPRP is well known for the treatment of other pathologies. To overcome variability and other issues with aPRP we previously used PITA funding to develop a low-cost bioactive plasma-based material (PBM) derived from allogeneic PRP, and we subsequently demonstrated PBM efficacy as an adjunct treatment for repair of bone fractures in a human clinical trial. We propose to develop a new PBM product for treating pressure ulcers and demonstrate feasibility in an animal model of ulceration.


Evaluation of Particle Science's Solid Lipid Drug Carriers Through a Novel Biomimetic Device
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Yaling Liu, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
PA Industry: Particle Sciences

This project aims to use a novel biomimetic microfluidic device to test drug carrying particles developed by Particle Sciences. Particle Sciences Inc. focuses on development of particles for pharmaceutical customers. Currently these particles are tested in culture dishes which are in relatively static environments. There is a need to evaluate particles in a more physiologically relevant environment to collect in vitro data that may better predict the activities that will be achieved in animal and human based testing. Our proposed solution is a biomimetic microfluidic platform that can simulate an in vivo blood vessel outside of the human body. This platform integrates monolayers of endothelial cells (EC) and other cell types in a microfluidic channel, which can be subjected to specific flow and chemokine stimulations. It is comprised of a top and bottom channel separated by a semi-permeable cell culture friendly membrane. Our platform has the capability to access specific sections of the top channel via the lower channel, which allows spatially controlled stimulation of these endothelial cells from the basal side. This in vitro blood vessel model can serve as a generic platform to study targeted drug delivery (ligand-receptor specificity, drug carrier features, hemorheology factors), cardiovascular conditions (atherosclerosis, angiogenesis in tumor-like microenvironment), immunology (inflammation, leukocyte adhesion and migration), as well as perform explicit studies on patient specific blood vessels (design channel geometries specific to patient blood vessel; integrate endothelial cells from patient) to understand the best treatment strategy for a disease condition or study various factors that culminated in the onset of a disease condition, etc. This cost-effective biomimetic device can help Particle Science accelerate data collection cycle, develop patient specific therapeutics, as well as provide a more realistic platform to enhance current conventional R&D studies in pharmaceutical industry.


Fabrication of the MEMS Device for Determining Mechanical Properties of Cellular Aggregates
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Svetlana Tatic-Lucic, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PI: Sabrina Jedlicka, Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Susan Perry, Department of Chemical Engineering; Nicholas Strandwitz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
PA Industry: SPTS Technologies

This proposal is focused on they fabrication of the MEMS device for determining mechanical properties of three dimensional aggregates of pluripotent stem cells. Cell aggregates are often used in stem cell culture to mediate cellular maintenance and/or differentiation. In our specific case, these stem cells are human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC cells), which have a number of promising therapeutic uses. For example, in cardiac tissue engineering, the cells have been shown to integrate into the existing tissue and ultimately repair the damaged muscle in vivo. While this is promising, the barrier to clinical implementation lies in the low success rate of stem cell implants. One possible explanation is that their mechanical properties are altered in long term culture conditions. Previous data collected by the team indicate that hMSCs stiffen with age. In addition, the ability of the cells to undergo cellular differentiation (specialization into cells that make up muscle, bone, etc), is significantly reduced.

To study this cellular "aging" phenomenon, a tool for cell screening is required. Prior research has led Prof. Tatic-Lucic to develop BioMEMS devices to measuring mechanical properties of individual cultured cells. However, given the aggregate based growth of many pluripotent stem cell models, such as hMSCs, the existing technology is not suitable, due to cell aggregate size and predicted aggregate mechanics. Therefore, based on our combined expertise and preliminary results, we propose a one-year PITA effort centered upon fabrication of the device that will be used for the biomechanical characterization of cellular aggregates. This device development will involve a local PA-based company, SPTS Technologies, as steps in the device fabrication will aim to solve fundamental challenges in MEMS fabrication. This partnership will therefore contribute to the the body of knowledge that SPTS possesses about MEMS fabrication, furthering the companies' mission and overall goals.


HAZARD MITIGATION AND DISASTER RECOVERY

Anomaly Detection on Piezometer Data Collected from Embankment Dams

PI: Mario Berges, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PIs: Barnabas Poczos, Machine Learning

Embankment dams, like most other civil infrastructure systems, are exposed to unpredictable environments. However, their design specifications and as-is properties are not generally known due to among other things, their age and the difficulties associated with assessing their internal structure. Hence, evaluating measurements collected from instruments used to monitor their behavior requires sound engineering judgment and analysis, as well as robust statistical analysis techniques to prevent misinterpretation. In the U.S., the current practice of analyzing the structural integrity of embankment dams relies primarily on manual a posteriori analysis of instrument data by engineers, leaving much room for improvement through the application of automated data analysis techniques. Thus, we propose to test if applications of robust statistical anomaly detection techniques to piezometer data from embankment dams detect anomalies that are indicative of internal erosion, which is the most common failure mode in embankment dams, more accurately and earlier than qualitative examinations performed by engineers. In this research, we plan to investigate different categories of anomaly detection techniques that have been widely validated in various domains. In addition, we will simulate different degrees of anomalous severities using a physics-based engine for seepage flow in order to closely replicate more realistic anomalous scenarios.

Through collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) we will incorporate expert feedback and real-life dense instrumentation data into the approach. The USACE has been putting tremendous efforts to ensure dam safety. In addition, Geosyntec, a specialized engineering firm that has broad experience in solving engineering problems including safety and risk evaluation of geotechnical infrastructures, will also support us by providing critical reviews on our results. By leveraging the USACE engineers’ past experience and the support from Geosyntec engineers, there is opportunity to improve rational data analysis tools for the existing instruments, thus benefit the dam safety domain.


Seismic Performance Enhancement of Civil Engineering Structures Using Liquid Silicon Rubber Dampers
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: James Ricles, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: Corry Rubber Corporation
PA University Partner: Gannon University

Liquid Silicon Rubber (LSR) is a viable alternative to other materials used to construct dampers to provide supplemental damping to structural systems. LSR is less sensitive to temperature, frequency, and strain compared to butyl, a compound used to construct conventional elastomeric dampers. LSR processes like a thermoplastic, with a significantly reduced cure time and cost. Manufacturing methods lend themselves to on-site fabrication of dampers, which would greatly simplify the design and construction process and expand design capabilities. The proposed project will develop the use of LSR to construct dampers to reduce structural vibrations in building systems under earthquake loads. This is to be accomplished by conducting a second phase of LSR material characterization, followed by experimental validation studies of dampers constructed using LSR material.

The project builds upon results from prior studies on elastomeric dampers, where prior generations of dampers were constructed and mechanical properties of the dampers were obtained. These studies helped to establish real-time hybrid simulation methods for structural systems with passive dampers, which led to preliminary assessment of these dampers for structural vibration control under seismic loading. The LSR dampers are a newer version of a second-generation damper that was developed by Lehigh University, Penn State Behrend, Gannon University and Corry Rubber, Inc. (headquartered in Corry, PA) in a previous PITA sponsored study. The proposed study is a continued collaboration effort between these institutions and industry partner.


Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Robust, Scalable, Accurate, and Dense Sensing System
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Shamim Pakzad, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: Specialty Engineering, Inc.

Applications of dense sensor networks in Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) projects inevitably impose high computational expense to the SHM algorithms in processing such large monitoring data sets. These necessitate the design of SHM frameworks that are scalable to the size of the network in terms of their computational complexity. The objective of this proposal is to develop and evaluate damage detection algorithms enable to infer damage correctly by analyzing a subset sample of the collected data. In the proposed compressive damage localization model, first a set of sensors from the network are randomly sampled. Measurement from these sampled sensors are processed to extract damage sensitive features. These features undergo statistical change detection tests and classify the network into “damaged” or ”not damaged” regions. This classification directs the new sampling boundary and is sequentially updated as new sensors are added to processing subset and more information about location of damage is provided. This research also aims to compare suitability of several damage sensitive features, change point analysis, and data compression methods for use in the context of compact damage detection and find those capable of lowering the computational expense of search for location of damage and improve the scalability of the damage localization algorithms. Performance of the proposed algorithm is evaluated on gusset plate connections. Pre- and post-damage strain distributions in the gusset plate are used for damage diagnosis. These evaluation studies are implemented on damage scenarios in finite element simulations as well as experimental set up where Digital Image Correlation is used to collect a highly dense grid of the strain field.


Evaluation Of Rubber Bumper Element For Building Seismic Response Reduction Systems
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Richard Sause, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: Pfeiger Plastics Company

The proposed research is a partnership between Lehigh University of Bethlehem PA and a Pennsylvania Industry Partner, Pleiger Plastics Company of Washington PA, with university collaborators at University of Arizona (UA) and University of California San Diego (UCSD) and a continuation of an ongoing PITA project. The project will evaluate, characterize and demonstrate the performance of a key component of a seismic response mitigation system for multi-story office and apartment buildings. The seismic response mitigation system, called the Inertial Force Limiting Floor Anchorage System, reduces building response to earthquakes by partially uncoupling the floors from the walls, thereby limiting damage to the structure and its contents, as well as mitigating the possibility of catastrophic failure. The key component proposed for investigation in this project is a rubber bumper element placed between the floors and the walls of a building that acts as a “stop” in the system to eliminate potentially dangerous large floor displacements during rare but extreme earthquake events. If the seismic response reduction system is successfully demonstrated, the impact of this system could have a non-negligible effect on the PA economy.