PITA Fiscal Year 2016 Projects


Life-Cycle Cost, Risk and Sustainability Analysis and Prediction of Performance of Steel Bridges with and without Corrosion Resistant Steel
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Dan M. Frangopol

Steel bridges under severe chloride exposure, due to de-icing salts or marine environmental effects, require frequent maintenance and repair activities to extend their service life and maintain an adequate performance level. In addition to the direct cost, these maintenance actions may lead to indirect costs associated with traffic delays and environmental effects, which can significantly increase the life-cycle cost of the bridge under consideration. 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 the maintenance actions along the service life and their associated indirect effects, can be significantly reduced. Also, the risk and resilience of structures made of high strength steel can be significantly lower and larger than that of structures made of conventional steel, respectively. Outcomes of this project include: (a) analysis and prediction of risk, resilience, life-cycle cost and sustainability of steel bridges made with the corrosion-resistant A1010 steel; (b) analysis and prediction of risk, resilience, life-cycle cost and sustainability of steel bridges made without corrosion resistant steel; and (c) comparison between the results obtained in (a) and (b) quantifying the long-term benefits of steel bridges made of corrosion resistant steel in terms of risk, resilience, life-cycle cost and sustainability. Outcomes from this project are relevant to the Nation’s steel bridge infrastructure, and in particular should provide economic and social benefits to Pennsylvania where steel bridges represent the majority of the total number of highway bridges. Companies such as ArcelorMittal will benefit from this project by using a risk- resilience- life-cycle cost- sustainability model that will clearly indicate the long-term benefits of using maintenance-free steel.


A Low-Power Wide Area Networking Platform for Infrastructure Sensing
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Anthony Rowe, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-PIs: Bob Iannucci, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Infrastructure monitoring applications in outdoor environments currently lack a cost-effective solution for supporting the last communication hop of low-power sensing devices. The use of cellular infrastructure requires contracts and complex radios that are often too power hungry and cost prohibitive for sensing applications that require just a few bits of data each day. New low-power, sub-GHz, long-range radios are an ideal technology to help fill this communication void by providing access points that are able to cover multiple kilometers of urban space with thousands of end-point devices. These new Low-Power Wide-Area Networking (LP-WAN) platforms provide an extremely cost-effective and highly deployable option that could piggyback off of existing public and private wireless networks (WiFi, GSM, etc). In this project, we will design, deploy and evaluate an open-source wireless communication system based on LoRA radio chipsets. Our goal is to provide an open, secure and free-to-use telemetry network rooted at CMU’s campuses that extends to the city of Pittsburgh and Palo Alto. This will enable a plethora of applications ranging from water and power sensing to transportation, traffic light control, pedestrian / cyclist counting, hazardous road condition sensing and even parking garage management. We will pilot the technology with a few simple use-cases like helping CMU’s Facilities Maintenance Services (FMS) monitor overheating and water leaks in hard to reach locations on campus. The network will also provide the campus’ maker community and Citizen Scientist around the Pittsburgh area with a free communication backhaul opening up the creative potential of our student body. With the help of industry sponsor Crown Castle, we have a unique opportunity to design, deploy and evaluate one of the nation’s first communication networks of this type.

Flexible Large-Scale Telemetry for Attack Detection in Software-Defined Networks
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Vyas Sekar, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Network management requires accurate estimates of metrics for traffic engineering (e.g., heavy hitters), anomaly detection (e.g., entropy of source addresses), and security (e.g., DDoS detection). Obtaining accurate estimates given router CPU and memory constraints is a challenging problem. Existing approaches fall in one of two undesirable extremes: (1) low fidelity general-purpose approaches such as sampling, or (2) high fidelity but complex algorithms customized to specific application-level metrics. Ideally, a solution should be both general (i.e., supports many applications) and pro- vide accuracy comparable to custom algorithms. This proposal will culminate in the design and implementation of a framework for network monitoring which leverages recent theoretical advances and demonstrates that it is possible to achieve both generality and high accuracy. The solution called Universal Monitoring (UnivMon) uses an application-agnostic monitoring primitive that runs on routers and dedicated packet monitoring appliances. Different (and possibly unforeseen) estimation algorithms run in a programmable network control platform, and use the statistics from the data plane to compute application-level metrics. The goal of the project will be to develop a proof-of-concept implementation of UnivMon using emerging software-programmable network router platforms and develop simple coordination techniques to provide a whole system-wide approach for network monitoring. We will demonstrate the application of this approach in the context of large-scale Distributed Denial of Service Detection. We will evaluate the effectiveness of UnivMon using a range of trace-driven evaluations and show that it offers comparable (and better) accuracy relative to custom sketching solutions. We will investigate the viability and performance of this approach using hardware platforms and programmable support offered by our PA industrial partner Netronome.

Combining a Variety of Sensors for a User Oriented Internet of Things
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Asim Smailagic, Engineering Research Accelerator
Co-PIs: Dan Siewiorek, HCII; Julie Downs, SDS

The Internet of Things (IoT) introduces ideas such as that everyday objects can sense their own behavior, their environment and the patterns of their usage. This can offer very innovative opportunities in information retrieval, healthcare, education and other areas. The IoT applications are based on large amount of sensor data and making that data usable to everyday persons is becoming a challenge as well. Our project uses context-aware and Internet of Things computing technology to aid care coordinators in keeping their patients healthy, happy, independent and safe in their respective homes. Taking care of elderly persons is becoming a real challenge in many countries. The system will (1) allow to view and add their patients’ information, (2) automate the process of gathering patient data and provide some data analytics, (3) gather medical and social/emotional data to provide a holistic view of the health status of patients, and (4) provide alerts and notifications when a patient deviates from their baseline health. We combine mobile and stationary sensors, as well as EMA (Ecological Momentary Assessment) surveys for parameters that cannot be sensed (e.g., social activity, mood). This is a unique combination of sensors that will be used in the system that we are developing.

Analyzing and Defending CyberAttacks on Electric & Autonomous Vehicle Battery
Systems Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Venkat Viswanathan, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Vyas Sekar, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Koushil Sreenath, Mechanical Engineering

We envision two key technology trends that are poised to revolutionize the automotive industry in the near future and that is likely to stay for the foreseeable future: (1) the commoditization of electric vehicles (EVs) and (2) the emergence of autonomous driving systems. These trends offer great promise to different stakeholders (consumers, car manufacturers, governments, society) in terms of costs, efficiency, and environmental impact. While these benefits are promising, they are accompanied by (valid) concerns with respect to safety and security. EVs in particular at present have an increased perceived safety and security risk due to concerns about fire hazards (e.g., large battery packs contain electrolytes based on known flammable materials), “range anxiety” (e.g., how much can we drive on a single charge), and battery life. These concerns with respect to car safety are very real – recent hack with 2014 Jeep Cherokee proves this point! The goal of our research project is to develop a principled understanding of the challenges associated in electric vehicle safety and security specifically targeted at the battery system (e.g., safety, range, life). Addressing this problem entails an interdisciplinary approach combining battery modeling with system-level security analysis. To this end, we will develop (1) develop robust models for degradation and identify danger zones of operation; (2) systematic “attack graphs” that shed light on possible attack strategies; (3) concrete demonstrations of attacks against EV batteries; and (4) control strategies to mitigate the damage from these attacks.

Molecular Layer Deposition and Thermal Processing for Novel Low Dielectric Constant Materials
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Prof. Nicholas Strandwitz

Vapor phase growth of thin films is essential to modern microelectronics and impacts fields from photovoltaics to transistors to lasers. Currently, there is a need for high performance low-dielectric constant materials for integrated circuits. Gelest, a world leader in silane-based chemistries produces several proprietary molecular precursors for vapor phase thin film growth that are highly promising for the growth of low dielectric constant materials. The Strandwitz group at Lehigh will examine the growth and properties of low dielectric constant layers derived from Gelest’s precursors, focusing on the emerging class of cyclic azasilanes. The deposition chemistries and processing techniques developed will be translated to industry for adoption in integrated circuit and photovoltaic industries.

Robust synchronization for networks using IEEE 1588 precise time protocol in the presence of delay attacks
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Rick Blum

The ability to precisely synchronize clocks among distributed components is critical in fields such as electrical power systems, industrial automation, and telecommunication. One of the popular timing synchronization protocols is the IEEE 1588 standard (also referred to as the “Precise Time Protocol” (PTP)) which can provide microsecond-level sychronization accuracy for packet-switched networks. The packet-switched networks inherently suffer from unpredictable network traversal times, a phenomenon referred to as Packet Delay Variation (PDV). PTP adopts a straightforward approach, wherein a slave node synchronizes to the master node via two-way timing message exchanges. One of the most effective attacks in PTP is the delay attack, wherein a malicious attacker deliberately delays the transmission of time synchronization messages in order to degrade the accuracy of the packet-based synchronization schemes. This type of attack cannot be typically countered using conventional security measures. Under 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 for scenarios when a slave node tries to synchronize to a single master node. In the current PITA grant, various existing approaches addressing the problem of delay attack were studied and analyzed. Some preliminary results on theoretical performance limits on the best acheivable performance using multiple masters in the presence of delay attacks were derived, and a new method for PDV cancellation in the presence of delay attacks using multiple masters is being developed. Synchronizing the slave node in the presence of delay attacks using multiple master nodes when complete information of the distribution of the PDV is unavailable was not considered in the previous work. This would be studied under the requested funding. The project is a collaboration between the Lehigh team and Netizen Corporation, a strong local company focused on cybersecurity.


Anomaly detection for proactive equipment maintenance and energy management at supermarkets

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Burcu Akinci, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PIs: Mario Berges, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The current practice of maintenance in supermarkets is mainly reactive, in which maintenance happens only after equipment failure or inefficiency occurs. This, however, can bring a significant reduction in the service level as well as energy performance. Therefore, it is needed to automatically detect such anomaly and failure in advance so that facility managers can take actions proactively and strategically before substantial loss occurs.

In this research, we propose to develop a method for automatically detecting anomalies from electricity consumption data of a grocery store to predict malfunctioning, failure, and inefficient operation of lighting, refrigerators and other major load categories. We focus on lighting and refrigerators because those are the major electricity consumer in supermarkets (80 percent of electricity in a mid-sized supermarket) and also closely related to the customer’s service satisfaction. By applying advanced statistical anomaly detection techniques to the energy consumption record and equipment maintenance log in a grocery store, we will find a model that maps energy consumption and equipment replacement.

In partnership with Giant Eagle, we will have access to an extensive historical record of both energy usage patterns.

Automatic control logic evaluation for secondary Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Xuesong Liu, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PIs: Mario Berges, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Burcu Akinci, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This proposed research project targets at automatically detect and diagnose control logic faults in building heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Control logic faults are caused by inconsistencies in the logic implementation with regard to the designed sequence of operation (SOO) and violations of the energy efficiency principles. Previous studies suggest that they account for more than 15% (occurrence number) of HVAC faults. There are several causes for control logic faults, such as SOO being incorrectly written by the mechanical engineer or incorrectly interpreted by the programmer, implementation mistakes and errors, inconsistent/incorrect configurations during operation and maintenance, and improper customization of control logics that are copied from other projects or templates, etc.

Current industry practice adopts two approaches to identify control logic faults: manual logic verification during system commissioning and BAS data-based automated fault detection and diagnosis (AFDD) during operation. However, manual approaches are limited in that they incur in large labor costs and are prone to human errors. Moreover, AFDD approaches identify faults that can be have multiple potential causes or can fail to detect certain types of control logic faults that require information about the control device specifications or control logic configuration.

To overcome these limitations, we propose an approach that automates the HVAC control logic verification and identifies control logic faults before system operation, utilizing software testing and model checking techniques. These techniques have been used in other domains (e.g., pacemakers and aviation) but remain untested for HVAC systems. The envisioned research outcome, then, is an approach that automatically verifies control logic programs during implementation, and alerts the control logic programmer about control logic faults so that they can correct them before the operation of HVAC systems. This will reduce energy waste and improve occupant comfort.


Stress Corrosion Cracking in Concentrated Chloride Environments

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Bryan Webler, Materials Science & Engineering
Co-PIs: Petrus Pistorius, Materials Science & Engineering

This project will investigate the corrosion resistance of stainless steels in brines (water with high salt concentrations). These solutions are produced as wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing process of natural gas extraction. They are corrosive even to stainless steels, which are common materials of construction for water handling and water treatment infrastructure. The corrosion phenomena of most importance in these situations are pitting and stress corrosion cracking (SCC), both of which can lead to component failures. These phenomena are related and their evolution depends on solution chemistry, temperature, and alloy composition. In this project we will focus on the effects of these variables on the evolution of pitting and SCC, particularly the initiation and growth of SCC from pits. We will study these phenomena over a range of alloys, from common 300-series stainless steels to highly alloyed grades, in collaboration with ATI, a Pennsylvania-based stainless steel producer. This work will enable better quantification of the effects of alloying on corrosion behavior. This information can be used to determine performance expectations for existing steels and to select new steels for service in water treatment infrastructure. For steel producers such as ATI this information can help guide the design of new steels for use in corrosive environments.

Development of fluorescent sensing materials for saltwater in tracking device development
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sabrina Jedlicka
Co-PIs: Susan Perry

Recently, coral reefs made headline news with the announcement that 93% of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been bleached, and that reefs surrounding the Florida keys are dissolving. Coral bleaching is caused by the coral tissues expelling symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium spp.), commonly known as zooxanthellae, while under stress. Generally, this event leads to the demise of the organism and disruption of the reef ecosystem. Thus, significant international attention has been focused at sustaining the health of the world’s marine environments. Water quality, such as the ionic balance, is one line of scientific inquiry. The balance of ionic species within marine water is increasingly at risk, due to pH disruption and temperature fluctuations. While widespread control of ocean chemistry is not feasible, developing an understanding of these dynamics could lead to long-term, environmental protection solutions. Therefore, developing technologies that allow for robust monitoring of marine water chemistry could enhance our understanding of these delicate ecosystems, as well as provide tools for sustainable aquaculture and other industrial purposes. The long-term goal of the proposed PITA project is to develop a sensing device that can autonomously monitor and report ionic balances in a marine environment (aquaculture facility, aquarium, environmental test bed, etc.). Previous results from associated research (PITA 2015) have identified a suite of materials that allow for robust calcium and magnesium sensing, with a linear calibration curve in the range of seawater. The remaining ions of interest are nitrate, phosphate, and bicarbonate (alkalinity). Thus, the short-term goal associated with this one-year PITA award is to design a set of sensing materials that can detect the concentration of these anions in seawater, for future incorporation into a prototype sensing device that is being designed for use in marine environments such as commercial/home aquariums and aquaculture facilities.


Minimally Intrusive Electrical Load Monitoring Using Distributed Sensing

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Mario Berges, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PIs: Anthony Rowe, Electrical and Computer Engineering

This project plans to evaluate the performance of a novel distributed electricity disaggregation algorithm developed at CMU that is especially well-suited to estimate the electricity consumption of individual loads in facilities that have a similar load composition. The current version of the algorithm, which has been described in an academic publication and a provisional US patent, achieves unprecedented disaggregation performance on the publicly available benchmark dataset BLUED. In short, the algorithm is a deep neural network that is designed to decompose the aggregate current measurements (corresponding to one full voltage cycle) into reoccurring and additive components (also corresponding to full cycles).

This neural network can be trained in an unsupervised fashion to learn the components and, given sufficiently detailed measurements of current and voltage, and sufficiently large volumes of data, the resulting components readily correspond to individual appliances. Thus, the algorithm's performance is directly tied to the quality and volume of data that it is trained on.

One of the innovations being pursued in this project is to leverage previous advances by the Co- PIs in the area of large-scale distributed sensing (as a result of previous PITA funding on a project called Sensor Andrew) to facilitate the collection of the data required for the increased performance of the disaggregation algorithm. In essence, instead of attempting to disaggregate one single building at a time, the idea would be to allow the network to learn the components from the measurements collected at many buildings that share a similar load make-up.

For this project we will first develop a robust hardware prototype of the technology that can be deployed at Giant Eagle GetGo locations and stream data to a remote server. We will then deploy, test and refine the technology with the help of our partner, Giant Eagle.

Integrating High End and Low-Cost Air Quality Sensors
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Neil Donahue, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Engineering and Public Policy
Co-PIs: Illah Nourkbash, Robotics

We propose to begin development of an integrated, hierarchical data network for air-quality measurement by deploying a group of low-cost fine-particle sensors produced by Airviz Inc. as part of a year-long measurement campaign in Pittsburgh being undertaken by the EPA-funded Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions (CACES). This is the first step of a long-term vision to develop a hierarchical data network anchored by a very limited number of stations containing comprehensive state-of-the-art instrumentation with strategically deployed low-cost sensors that enable extrapolation of the high-quality data in time and space. Our focus is on fine particles, which are the dominant driver of mortality associated with air pollution and consequently the chief target of air pollution standards but also by far the most difficult to measure. Particles are a measurement challenge because they span 4 orders of magnitude in size (and thus 12 orders of magnitude in mass) and also have diverse and highly mixed composition. Our ansatz is that sufficiently accurate (in aggregate) low-cost sensors will have a response that is potentially variable with respect to the size and composition of fine particles, but anchored by limited but high-quality measurements from a suite of state-of-the-art instrumentation, the data from low cost sensors will be able to extend the expensive high-quality data in time and space to generate high-quality spatially and temporally resolved data fields suitable for both health effects research, air-quality policy and planning by public officials, and also presentation for public outreach.

Computational Methods for Enterprise-wide Optimization: Shale Gas Supply Chains and Capacity Expansion Industrial Gases
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Ignacio Grossmann, Chemical Engineering
Co-PIs: Lorenz Biegler Chemical Engineering; Nick Sahinidis, Chemical Engineering

The program on Enterprise-wide Optimization (EWO) at the Center for Advanced Process Decision-making (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: ABB, Air Liquide, Air Products, Braskem, Dow, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, P&G, Praxair, Sasol and SK Innovation. Four Pennsylvania based companies are involved, Air Products, Braskem, Dow, EQT, and one company that has operations in the state, ABB. With EQT we initiated last year a new project that deals with the optimization of the supply chain infrastructure and water management for the production of shale gas. With ABB we are involved in a new project for integrating ISA-95 information systems for batch scheduling operations. With Air Products we have initiated a project for developing an optimization model for strategic planning of industrial gas markets with special emphasis on capacity expansion accounting for electricity contracts and uncertain demands. With Braskem the research involves developing a dynamic polymerization reaction model that can be incorporated in production planning. With Dow we are involved in three different projects: Dynamic Warehouse Location with Discrete Transportation Costs for the Agrochemical Industry, Online Optimization for Batch Processes for Specialty Chemicals, and Flexible Long-term Turnaround Planning for Integrated Chemical Sites. The first Dow project deals with the development of an optimization model for planning of inventories and transportation that accounts for seasonal demands. The second one involves a multi-stage dynamic optimization model to minimize the transition times in the production of multiple grades of polymers. The fourth involves the planning and scheduling of maintenance in process networks so as to minimize the downtime of production. The funding requested is for the current project with EQT.

Developing Cell Mechanics based Microfluidics Approaches for Algae Products with Innovalgae
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Philip LeDuc, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Burak Ozdoganlar, Mechanical Engineering

The overall objective of this project is to work with Innovalgae to understand single algal cells and how they release lipids as a response to mechanical stress. Cells are complex mechanoresponsive systems that can be manipulated with a diversity of mechanical stimuli, which are directly correlated to their functional response. While cell mechanics has been studied for many years in examining physiological disease, cell mechanics is also quite important in a diversity of other biological systems. One area where cell mechanics is important, but has been understudied, is in the mechanical response of algae. Algae are one of the most promising biofuel resources for addressing future low-cost, carbon-neutral energy needs in a liquid form, and algae also have a market in nutraceuticals. The ability to lyse (i.e., rupture) algae, and release their molecules including lipids and omega-3s, is fundamentally critical for efficient extraction fromalgae, leading to commercial applications. One potential way to study this, and in the future implement this in a high throughput form for algae molecule extraction, is to use microfluidic channels to impart fluid forces on the algae cells. When extracting molecules from algae with current techniques, the energy utilized for extraction is very inefficient. We will work on this project through focusing on two Specific Objectives. We will mechanically characterize the rupture strength of algae. We will also fabricate and test low-energy algae molecule extraction in microfluidic systems. The requested funding will provide support for 1 PhD student for 1 year. The PhD student, Ms. Jonelle Yu, has previously worked in industry at General Electric before returning for her PhD, and is well suited to this project. She will work with Innovalgae through her expertise in cell studies and microfabrication. This project will have implications in a number of areas including energy and nutraceuticals.

High Resolution Mapping of Size and Surface Charge Distribution of Particle-Stabilized Colloids Used in Architectural Coatings
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: James Schneider, Chemical Engineering
Co-PIs: Aditya Khair, Chemical Engineering

This proposal aims to develop an means to measure the surface charge of polymer-titania composite particles used in architectural paint formulations. The project is a collaboration with Dow Chemical Company (Collegeville PA), one of the largest producers of paint compounds in the world. These composite particles greatly reduce the amount of titania required in architectural paints, leading to substantial decrease in the energy required for the synthesis of titania and energy required for transportation of the resulting paint products. Due to the nature of the polymer-titania interactions, these composite particles have a diverse surface chemistry, and as such, it is expected that measurement of averaged properties will not adequately predict the stability of these composite particles in paint. To address this, we will develop a microfluidic electrophoresis system to measure the surface charge on individual particles, one at a time. This "digital" approach will capture rare chemistries that may play an outsized role in dictating stability. Simulations of particle aggregation will also be performed using the data collected and compared with stability measurements to validate the digital characterization approach. First, a simpler latex model system will be used, with a series of buffers that will allow control of the stability with precision. Later, the method will be applied to the composite particles. All materials for characterization will be supplied by Dow Chemical using a high-resolution sizing technique called asymmetric flow field flow fractionation.

Novel Solar Water Heater Using High-efficiency, Flexible Nanophotonic Absorbers
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Sheng Shen, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Shi-Chune Yao, Mechanical Engineering; Do Xiao, Physics

Solar energy is generally unlimited and clean, and therefore has been broadly recognized as one of the most promising renewable energy sources. As a device that converts solar radiation into the thermal energy for heating water, a solar water heater is suitable for both industrial and household applications due to its ease of operation, scalability, and simple maintenance. In this project, we will collaborate with Epiphany Solar Water Systems, who is a Pennsylvania based manufacturer of concentrated solar powered water purification systems, to develop a novel and low-cost solar water heater using high-efficiency, flexible nanophotonic absorbers. The proposed joint research between CMU and Epiphany will include thermal/optical simulation and design, system integration, and field test under ambient sunlight.

Solar water heating and purification provides us a promising pathway towards substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions and therefore significantly contributes to the environment and sustainable cities in PA. The integration of high-efficiency nanophotonic solar absorbers will facilitate transformative advancements in the performance and design of solar water heating and purification systems. The process and the structure that we are pursuing lend themselves very nicely to large-scale and low-cost production, which will be very desirable for market launch. If successful, it is projected that the new material and fabrication technology will result in significant reduction of the price of solar water heating and purification systems.

Optimization Methods for Decisions in Industrial Gas Network Problems
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Luis F. Zuluaga
Co-PIs: Alberto Lamadrid

Air Products provides indispensable products like oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen to manufacturing, health care, transportation, and other essential industries worldwide. In a 2012 study by the American Chemistry Council, it was shown that industrial gases companies produced approximately $17 billion worth of products in 2010 and employed approximately 60,000 American workers. The objective of this project is threefold: 1) As a continuation of previous PITA-funded work on the optimization of the industrial gas network at Air Products, this project will develop the optimization of the industrial gas network under the posibility of production capacity expansion or reduction. Adding this factor makes the underlying optimization problem much more challenging. 2) As a continuation of previous PITA-funded work on sensor fault detection using sensibility analysis techniques, this project will develop new sensitivity analysis techniques to address the problem of quantifiying the effect of changing parameters used to make production decisions about the industrial gas network. Such parameters measure the company's total cost and revenue from their industrial gas business, and the ability to fine-tune them will substantially affect the bottom line. 3) In a new line of collaboration, this project will help Air Products optimize their participation in future gas markets. This requires handling non-linear and discontinuous functions that reflect the behavior of the contracts, as well as gaining a deep undertanding of these gas markets. To that end, a new approximation technique will be used to make the optimization of the company's gas market participation a tractable one for current optimization solvers. This project will be done in close collaboration with the Air Products R&D group, faculty from Lehigh's Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department and the College of Business and Economics, and with the participation of at least one graduate student.

Study of the Degradation of Polymer-Modified Self-Adhesive Waterproof Membrames and Possible Solutions
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: H. Daniel Ou-Yang
Co-PIs: Eric S. Daniels; Willie Lau (Oriental Yuhong America)

Polymer-modified, self-adhesive waterproofing membranes are one of the major products of Oriental Yuhong America, LLC., with 200,000,000 m2 manufactured each year in China, and has been increasing 40% each year. The membrane can be applied at low temperatures (ca. 5 oC) without needing any heating (representing significant energy savings) and adheres directly to wet cement. However, there have been important losses in the adhesive properties for this product, and the goal of this PITA grant would be to understand the underlying reason for the decrease in properties of the self-adhesive membranes, to utilize applicable test methods to understand the loss of adhesion and residual odor in the membrane and to develop solutions to solve these issues.

Polymer-modified, self-adhesive waterproofing membranes are one of the major products of Oriental Yuhong America, LLC., with 200,000,000 m2 manufactured each year. This product is prepared with asphalt, styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS triblock copolymer), styrene-butadiene rubber copolymer (SBR), along with mineral spirits and tackifying resin alomg with several other components. The membrane can be applied at low temperatures (ca. 5 oC) without needing any heating and adheres diectly to wet cement. This will help to ensure better environmental stewardship, since this product is self-adhesive and no heat (energy) would be used to adhere the membrane to costruction materials that are used in high volume. The market share of all water-proof membranes has been increasing at a rate of 25 %/year for all industry working in this application area and 40%/year for Oriental Yuhong itself because of the ease of application of the membranes.

Self-adhesive membranes should be stored below 45℃ in a protected environment to avoid temperature-related damage as well as damage from exposure to rain (moisture) in order to meet the one year quality guarantee period offered by Oriental Yuhong. However, it is difficult for the self-adhesive membrane produced in China to meet industry standards during their quality guarantee period. In particular, the peel strength of the adhesive membrane decreased significantly in construction applications where storage conditions can't be met to satisfy the standards requirements. If the product is applied after the membranes have laid on the ground for two or three hours, the products will exhibit no adhesive properties. However, comparable products manufactured by our competitors don’t exhibit this phenomenon. In addition, if the membranes remain unprotected prior to installaton, there are odor issues, the cause of which are not known, that need to be resolved.

For the measurement of the adhesive properties of the membranes, we use a viscosity meter to measure the initial viscosity of the system, and use industry-standard peel strength test methods to analyze the initial moisture and peel strength under exposure to different environmental conditions, in order to judge the performance of the product. The results of these tests are shown in Figures 1 to 4 (included in a separate attachment). In addition, we plan to utilize other test methods and instrumentation to address surface aging concerns of the asphalt memberanes, and enhance our understanding of their microstructure. Analytic equipment in various labs at Lehigh will be used in this study, such as ESCA (for surface characterization of "fresh" and "aged" membranes), atomic force spectroscopy (AFM), optical microscopy, electron microscopy, dynamic mechanical analysis, rheology, and adhesive tack testing to measure debonding of the adhesive, among other tests.

The reasons that adhesion may be lost may include the following factors: due to cost pressures, the raw materials used in the manufacturing of the membranes may not be as good as foreign supplies; the itype of insulating membrane can affect the adhesion; and no additives such as antioxidants or UV absorber additives are included in the formulation which could influence adhesion.

In addition, the properties of thick latex films, which are an integral component of the waterproof technoligy used to mnufacture these emberanes, will be studied as well.

Investigation of Bio-inspired Soil Improvement and its Effects on thermal Properties of Soils
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Muhannad T. Suleiman
Co-PIs: Bryan Berger and Derick Brown

The goal of this project is to investigate the use of recently developed flexible bio-inspired materials to improve the mechanical and thermal soil properties and their effects on the performance of geothermal deep foundations. Flexible bio-inspired materials, which are produced by mimicking natural biological processes, have remarkable engineering properties. Geotechnical engineering national research related to civil infrastructures have recently been focusing on bio-mediated soil improvement methods and geo-energy applications (e.g., geothermal energy extracted using deep foundations and other geo-structures). These two research areas have been dealt with separately. Research related to geothermal deep foundations, which are used for heating and cooling purposes including bridge de-icing, have been focusing on their mechanical response, while the focus of bio-mediated soil improvement research has been on enhancing the response of infrastructures subjected to natural hazards (e.g. earthquake loading) using the microbial-induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) process, which require the use of bacteria. The proposed research focuses on improving the mechanical and thermal soil properties using flexible bio-inspired materials (without using the bacteria in soils), up-scaling the process to field scale, and evaluating the concept of creating a bio-inspired thermally-improved engineered transition zone surrounding geothermal deep foundations to enhance their thermal performance, which can make them more feasible renewable and sustainable energy alternative. The concept of creating a bio-inspired thermally-improved zone surrounding the foundation can significantly improve the thermal performance of geothermal foundations. This concept decouples the structural component (pile) and the heat transfer component (bio-inspired thermally-improved zone) allowing for engineering the foundation system according to the structural and thermal demands for each project. In this research, the multi-disciplinary team of principal investigators, who have expertise in geothermal foundations, bio-modification of soils, and bio-inspired materials, are collaborating with a Pennsylvania foundation/ground improvement company (Menard-USA) and strengthening the three years collaboration between the PI and Menard.  
Cost analysis of alternative systems to power fork lift fleets
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Emory W. Zimmers, Jr.
Co-PIs: Robert Gustafson and Doug Sunday

Lehigh University Enterprise Systems Center (ESC) has a mission of providing students with experiential learning and leadership development opportunities and helping industry partner companies to improve their global competitiveness through high ROI consulting projects.

Philadelphia Scientific (PS) is a world-leading provider of products and services for motive power and standby batteries, operating from North America, Europe, Southeast-Asia & Asia-Pacific. The creator and manufacturer of many market-leading products, PS continuously develops new innovations to serve the industry. This excellence in engineering, combined with a passion for quality, has made PS one of the most trusted brands in the marketplace today.

Lehigh ESC is proposing to do an independent analysis of the cost benefit to purchase and maintain lead acid batteries vs other systems to power fork lift fleets. We would compare these cost of ownership to systems – manual monitoring systems, advanced automated monitoring systems and fuel cell systems.

The project would use an extensive database compiled by Philadelphia Scientific along with data available through East Penn to complete the cost analysis. The proposal will include interviews of facilities using fuel cells and compile a comparison database. The deliverable would be an analysis describing the life cycle cost comparisons.

Study of the Melting Process of Phase Change Materials Including Solid Sinking
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Carlos Romero and Alparslan Oztekin

This project is for a study that will help provide an understanding of the full process of melting of phase change materials. These materials are used in a very wide range of applications, including solar thermal energy harvesting, heat storage, heating and cooling of buildings, power generation, directed energy weapons and portable electronic devices. Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT), of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has a number of phase change material-heat sink related projects distributed throughout the company's technology portfolio for military and commercial cooling applications. Getting a good handle on the thermal performance of the phase change material thermal process is critical to optimize ACT's product design and reduce development/production costs of related products. This project will explore analytically/numerically and experimentally the process of melting of a phase change material, with particular emphasis on capturing the phenomenon of the solid phase motion in the liquid. The project will produce a proven approach to be incorporated efficiently in computational fluid mechanics models, suitable for optimization of product design by ACT. Additionally, the project results will be evaluated in terms of the improvement in design/production costs by ACT for material-heat sink related products by the use of the method developed in this project.

Desalination and Defluoridation of Contaminated Brackish Water with Innovative Ion Exchange Technology
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Arup K. SenGupta
Co-PIs: Todd Watkins

Throughout the world, there is a huge stress on supply of appropriate quality potable water.The crisis is also aggravated by the unpredictability of the climmate change and adverse impact of global warming. Consequently, the dependence on impaired water sources has greatly increased and there is an urgency to develop appropriate technology to make such such secondary water sources economically viable and environmentally sustainable. In California and Texas, there is a move to treat brackish groundwater and recover secondary wastewater to meet the water demand of the population threatened by frequent droughts in the region. Currently, brackish water desalination is achieved by reverse osmosos (RO) processes that are very energy intensive.We have developed an ion exchange process that is capable of desalianting brackish water with a TDS less than 2000 mg/l with minimum amount of electric energy requirement.

Our ion exchange-based technologies can improve brackish water desalination in two possible ways. First, for existing RO plants, it can avoid the risk of sulfate and silica fouling of RO membranes at high recovery and Lehigh University has been awarded a US patent and another is pending.

SenGupta, A.K. and Sarkar, S. US Patent No. 7901577 awarded in March 8, 2011.”Brackish and Sea Water Desalination by A Hybrid Ion Exchange/Nanofiltration (HIX-NF) Process.” Secondly, for brackish water with less than 2000 mg/L salinity or TDS, a modified low-energy ion exchange process requires significantly less capital investment and has the potential to be a viable alternative to RO.

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.

Our laboratory-scale research has demonstrated that Lehigh University’s HAIX technology can selectively remove fluoride from contaminated groundwater; Lehigh’s international patent application with USPTO is currently undergoing evaluation.

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

Damage Identification of Transmission Towers using Automated Imagery
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Shamim Pakzad

Corrosion is a serious issue causing damage in steel powerline transmission towers that can lead to outages. The transmission tower structures constructed using carbon steels are galvanized and periodically painted to control corrosion. Corrosion is experienced in locations with constant moisture and inaccessibility to repaint. As a solution to this problem, the industry has used weathering steels of high strength and high strength low alloy compositions that lead to light weight overhead transmission towers with improved corrosion resistance, eliminating the necessity of protective paints. In the presence of trapped or circulating moisture the connections of weathering steels with no galvanization continuously produce layers of rust acting like bare carbon steels. These layers increase pressure in the bolts leading do eventual pop-out and failure of the connection called pack-out which is a major issue in transmission lines. Currently there is a large number of transmission towers with carbon and weathering steels with corrosion posing serious threats to their bearing capacity. Timely and accurate inspection and repair is essential to avoid outages due to structural failure. In such circumstances manual inspection of large number of towers for corrosion issues is time consuming, not very accurate due to human error and is not safe for the inspector. An automated inspection procedure for corrosion using image processing techniques with aerial or ground based images is a viable option. The suitable features corresponding to different types of corrosion and stages of damages will be extracted from a database of corresponding images created for this purpose. An efficient classification algorithm will be identified and trained to recognize corrosion damage in the partial images of structures obtained from aerial or ground based inspections. The feature generation and corrosion detection algorithms will be validated using simulated inspections at PPL Training center facilities. The possibility of integration of these results into the images of the whole structure will be explored using scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) algorithm.

Polymer composites for wear components in industrial pumps and compressors
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Brandon Krick

The proposed research focuses on ultralow wear, fluoropolymer-based nanocomposites for low friction, sliding applications. Fluoropolymers are chemically inert and have the lowest friction coefficient of any bulk polymer (as low as 0.05), but have high wear rates. The wear rate of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) can be reduced by four or more orders of magnitude through when composited with organic and inorganic materials through novel processing techniques. This renders them potentially viable for commercial applications where wear resistance, low friction and chemical inertness (in reactive chemical environments) is needed. One major application is in wear components of compressors and pumps in industrial markets. This includes pump wear rings, rod and packing rings, piston rings and other bearings, bushings and seals in markets such as hydrocarbon processing (e.g. oil and gas refinement), water desalination and industrial gas/specialty chemical suppliers. The goal of this project is take PTFE-based composite materials (currently studied in the academic setting at Lehigh) and extend them to applications in industrial pump and compressor components (currently being served by Boulden Company, Inc, a Pennsylvania company). This will require the transition from fundamentally motivated academic studies (which focus on materials in a laboratory setting) to real-world application environments and conditions.

The partnership with the Lehigh University Tribology Laboratory and Boulden Company, Inc. is a natural step to applying a breadth of fundamental knowledge (developed at Lehigh) to industrial applications where they can realize environmental and economical impacts. Research efforts to develop and optimize the next generation polymer composite system for industrial applications will include: exploring material compositional ranges to find optimal mechanical properties, test in a range of environments (temperature, working fluid) to simulate actual application, test in a variety of loading geometries/sliding conditions (contact pressures, speeds, etc.), compare against current state-of-the-art commercial materials and finally assess scale up and commercialization potential.


Using Computational Approaches to Diagnose Labral Tears of the Shoulder through Morphological Shape Grammar Analysis of Unenhanced MRI with ANSYS

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Jonathan Cagan, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Phil LeDuc, Mechanical Engineering; Sam Akhavan, Allegheny Health Network

Labral tears affect a large number of patients playing sports reliant on upper body strength and are present in 23% of a randomly sampled population. In cases, these patients are found to have instability in the tear requiring surgical intervention. Currently, diagnosis of labral tears is achieved using Magnetic Resonance (MR) Arthrography, relying on contrast to highlight the separation between the glenoid and labrum, and extensive assessment from radiologists. MR Arthrograms are common and safe but utilize an added procedure where dye is injected into the shoulder to delineate the tear. This can be time consuming, uncomfortable for patients, and more costly. In addition, patients may have to be followed over time to track the evolution of a tear.

If diagnosis of labral tears could be made reliably using standard MRI coupled with predictive indicators based on finite element analysis, patients would benefit significantly and the total cost of care would decrease. We believe that through using computational approaches and creating morphological shape grammar analysis of standard MRIs to diagnose labral tears, and predictive modeling, we can improve the accuracy of unenhanced MRIs in diagnosing this pathology. Part of the solution will be sufficient modeling of the complex interaction between soft and hard tissues that will enable better diagnostics based upon MRI data; we will partner with ANSYS, a PA company, to enable an effective 3D analysis of cartilaginous deformation in tear and no tear cases.

Providing additional information or insight to radiologists could result in fewer false negatives, providing more accurate diagnosis and resulting in more effective and timely treatment. Furthermore, this approach could potentially enable less invasive MRI imaging to be used to predict the tear or decrease the need for the more invasive MR Arthrograms, which would simplify patient procedures significantly and reduce the cost of diagnosis.

Developing Cell Mechanics based Microfluidics Approaches for Algae Products with Innovalgae
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Philip LeDuc, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Burak Ozdoganlar, Mechanical Engineering

The overall objective of this project is to work with Innovalgae to understand single algal cells and how they release lipids as a response to mechanical stress. Cells are complex mechanoresponsive systems that can be manipulated with a diversity of mechanical stimuli, which are directly correlated to their functional response. While cell mechanics has been studied for many years in examining physiological disease, cell mechanics is also quite important in a diversity of other biological systems. One area where cell mechanics is important, but has been understudied, is in the mechanical response of algae. Algae are one of the most promising biofuel resources for addressing future low-cost, carbon-neutral energy needs in a liquid form, and algae also have a market in nutraceuticals. The ability to lyse (i.e., rupture) algae, and release their molecules including lipids and omega-3s, is fundamentally critical for efficient extraction fromalgae, leading to commercial applications. One potential way to study this, and in the future implement this in a high throughput form for algae molecule extraction, is to use microfluidic channels to impart fluid forces on the algae cells. When extracting molecules from algae with current techniques, the energy utilized for extraction is very inefficient. We will work on this project through focusing on two Specific Objectives. We will mechanically characterize the rupture strength of algae. We will also fabricate and test low-energy algae molecule extraction in microfluidic systems. The requested funding will provide support for 1 PhD student for 1 year. The PhD student, Ms. Jonelle Yu, has previously worked in industry at General Electric before returning for her PhD, and is well suited to this project. She will work with Innovalgae through her expertise in cell studies and microfabrication. This project will have implications in a number of areas including energy and nutraceuticals.

Soft-Matter Printed Electronics for Wearable Health Monitoring
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Carmel Majidi, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PIs: Burak Ozdoganlar, Mechanical Engineering

Wearable health and physiological monitoring require electronics that are soft, lightweight, and compatible with natural human skin. In this 1-year academic-industry collaboration, we will explore new materials and fabrication methods for creating “artificial skin” electronics that can support biosensing functionalities like pulse oximetry, electrocardiography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and joint motion monitoring. Such work will build on our current collaborative efforts to extend silver-based functional inks and printed electronics to the domain of wearable computing and physical human-machine interaction. The PITA program is an ideal opportunity to leverage this existing collaboration to develop much needed materials framework and fabrication approach that will enable high throughput production of biosensing fabrics and wearables.

Ultra-sensitive sensor for quartz crystal microbalances
Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Nisha Shukla, Engineering Research Accelerator
Co-PIs: A.J.Gellman, Chemical Engineering

A new type of quartz crystal sensor will be developed for use in quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) systems used for detection of analytes in water-based systems and for enantiospecific adsorption of chiral pharmaceuticals. The sensor will be based on a standard quartz crystal but with electrodes manufactured from nanoporous gold (np-Au) rather than dense gold. The nanoporosity of the Au films increases their surface area by ~100-fold, and it has been demonstrated that this can increase QCM sensitivity by an order of magnitude (and probably by significantly more) over commercially available QCM systems. More importantly, the np-Au sensors to be developed in this PITA project will significantly improve the operation of QCMs for measurement of adsorption from liquids. QCM’s detect mass adsorbed onto smooth Au electrode surfaces by extremely sensitive measurement of shifts in the resonant frequency of the quartz crystal. In the presence of liquids, however, there are shifts in the frequency that also arise from dissipation due to the viscosity of the liquid. This complicates the analysis of adsorption. By using np-Au electrodes with much greater internal surface area than the flat electrodes, the dissipation issue is mitigated by the fact that the liquid is entrained in the nanoporous channels of the electrode. Successful completion of this project will result in the development of intellectual property that could be used as the basis for a small startup, or be value to existing commercial suppliers of QCM systems such as Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum in Export, PA and Kurt Lesker Co. in Pittsburgh, PA. The availability of these ultra-sensitive sensors will provide local researchers with capabilities that extend the current state of the art in detection of adsorption from solution and thereby, enhance the competitiveness of future research proposals in a wide variety of areas.

Investigation of Air Quality in a Hospital Burn Center
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: John T. Fox

It is well established that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are detrimental to in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, as VOCs can be embryotoxic. VOC levels at only parts per billion levels can negatively influence IVF outcomes. Beyond investigation of IVF facilities, there is only one published paper investigating VOC levels in French hospitals. VOC concentrations indoors are often found in levels 3-5 times greater than outdoor background air. Sources of VOCs include cleaners, disinfectants, aersols, solvents, new plastics, dry cleaned materials, and building materials. Exposure to VOCs can induce a variety of health effects, inlcuding nose and throat discomfort, headache, dyspnea, nausea, fatigue, epistaxis, and dizziness, among other effects. It is well documented that the most susceptible populations to air pollution include the elderly, young children, individuals with compromised cardiac systems, individuals with pulmonary disorders, and other vulnerable health conditions. While it has not yet been investigated, VOC concentrations may be a key contributor to patient outcomes for particulalry vulnerable patients. The proposed will investigate air quality in a hospital burn center to start to determine baseline VOC levels in U.S. based healthcare facilities.

Optimization of Drug Carrier Coating Design by a Microfluidic Chip
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Yaling Liu

This project aims to use a novel biomimetic microfluidic device to optimize the coating configruations of 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. We have collaborated with Particle Sciences to establish a customizered high-throughput drug carrier evaluation platform.This platform utilizes a biomimetic microfluidic device 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. In this proposed project period, we plan to use the developed platform to optimize drug carrier coating for Particle Science's lipid solid particle. In particular, we will determine the best PEG-antibody coating ratio to reduce non-specific adhesion and enhance specific binding of the drug carrier. This project will also serve as a benchmark test to establish standard data-set for commertialization of the patented microfluidic device. Once benchmarked, 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.

Developing New Therapeutics
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Neal G. Simon
Co-PIs: Vassie Ware and Javier Buceta

Effective therapeutics for moderate-to-severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis remain major unmet medical needs. In the Uited States alone, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury each year. Massive costs are associated with these injuries--52,000 deaths, 275,000 hospitalizations, and some 1.4 million individuals treated and released from emergency departments, with an annual economic burden estimated at $76.5 billion.TBI is a contributing factor to a third of all injury-related deaths in the United States. And among military personnel, there are over 30,000 medically diagnosed cases of TBI annually. Tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer due to a single infectious agent. Nearly 10 million new cases of TB were reported globally in 2014 and the increase in prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis challenges global initiatives to eradicate this disease because multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB does not respond to standard drug treatment. In the proposed project, a collaborative effort between Lehigh University and Azevan Pharmaceuticals, experiments will be conducted to determine the feasibility of new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of these serious medical conditions. With positive results, the project is expected to generate additional sources of funding that will support continued collaboration directed toward addressing these significant public health needs.

Supercritical Fluid Extraction for Medical Cannabis Production
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: James T. Hsu
Co-PIs: Lori Herz

The objective of this project is to develop a supercritical fluid fractionation process for medical cannabis production. On April 17, 2016, Governor of Pennsylvania, Mr. Tom Wolf had announced the medical cannabis is legal in Pennsylvania. Medical cannabis can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, to improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms. However, in order to make sure its safety and efficacy in medical applications, large scale purified medical cannabis will be produced for clinical trials and patients usage.

Plant cannabis material is placed in a pressure vessel and supercritical carbon dioxide is passed through the vessel to extract essential components such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The particle size of the cannabis material, also the pressure and temperature of supercritical carbon dioxide in the extractor are the most important variables for this extraction process to be evaluated. The extraction time in the vessel will be investigated. The solubility of THC and CBD in various supercritical carbon dioxide conditions will be measured to determine the optimal extraction condition.


Mechanical Characterization of High-Strength Rebar at Elevated Temperature

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Spencer Quiel
Co-PIs: Clay Naito and Natasha Vermaak

The research team will develop fire-induced deterioration models for the new grades of high-strength reinforcement that are increasingly used in U.S. construction practice. The study will examine rebar type ASTM A615, Grades 60, 75, and 100. The study will experimentally develop temperature deterioration curves for yield and tensile strength as well as stiffness that can be utilized to assess cover requirements to achieve various levels of fire resistance. The study will focus on larger bar sizes (No. 8 and 11) and will examine the sensitivity of fire resistance based on grade type. The research effort will be conducted by a graduate student researcher under the supervision of the research team faculty. The project team will interact with ACI/TMS Committee 216 to ensure that the project objectives and results align with the committee’s general efforts. The proposed project meets a research need that has been stated in two major roadmap documents for the increased implementation of high-strength rebar in reinforced concrete design. The proposed experimental test program will utilize an existing equipment setup at Lehigh University that is readily available for use in this project. The project will engage a rebar manufacturer with a large presence in Pennsylvania.

Small-Scale Structural Dynamic Testing Facility for Education, Training, and Research on the Effects of Natural Hazards on the Civil Infrastructure
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: James Ricles
Co-PIs: Spencer Quiel and Chinmoy Kolay

A small-scale structural dynamic testing laboratory is essential for enhancing graduate and undergraduate structural engineering education on the effects of natural hazards mitigation on civil infrastructure and developing mitigation measures to promote resiliency of this infrastructure. This laboratory would provide hands-on laboratory exercises, research training, and enable the development and validation of innovative testing methods and algorithms. The proposed project is to develop such a small-scale testing facility which will include a shake table, also called a seismic simulator, two dynamic servo-hydraulic actuators, and the hydraulic power supply system. The shake table will be constructed using the in-house knowledge and fabrication capabilities, while the dynamic actuators and servo hydraulic system will be acquired. The existing real-time integrated control architecture and the servo-hydraulic controllers available at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Lehigh Real-Time Multi-Directional (RTMD) Experimental Facility (EF) housed in the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center will be used to drive and control the shake table and the actuators. The proposed facility will enable various types of testing to be performed on structural systems and components subjected to natural hazards, including extreme earthquake and wind loads. These tests include shake table testing for seismic simulation; and force/displacement controlled dynamic testing, hybrid simulation, and real-time hybrid simulation for both seismic and extreme wind loads. The reduced scale equipment will enable it to be conviently arranged for use, making it economical, while also reducing conjestion on the main laboratory floor.

Processing high-resolution industrial recovery time-series for infrastructure resilience analysis
Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Paolo Bocchini

This project brings together researchers from Lehigh University, expert in infrastructure resilience assessment and enhancement, with OSIsoft, a local company that is world leader in data collection, efficient storage, and effective processing, with special focus in the field of utility companies. This collaboration allows to gather data from utility companies that use OSIsoft’s software package called “PI System”. In particular, PI System’s ability to store data effectively allows its customers to archive all data streams for long periods of time. This, in turn, grants Lehigh researchers unprecedented access to post-disaster recovery data with high resolution in time and space.

This data will be used to assess the probabilistic characteristics of a spatio-temporal recovery wave, which can be used in models for the prediction of the disaster resilience of a region. Such resolution will allow to capture also localized interdependencies in the recovery of multiple infrastructure systems. Moreover, the project will investigate correlations between the recovery speed of different neighborhoods and socio-economic metrics describing the wealth and status of the residents. The outcome of this analysis will allow to use information from socio-economic databases to fine-tune the predictions on post-disaster recovery.

The project has also an educational component, consisting in training provided by OSIsoft to the involved students, to teach them how to use effectively the PI System.

Overall, the project is expected to advance science, strengthen the collaboration between Lehigh University and OSIsoft, and facilitate new partnerships with local utility companies.  



Engineering Research Accelerator Educational Outreach Programs

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Alicia Angemeer, Engineering Research Accelerator

The Engineering Research Accelerator’s educational outreach programs share the university’s resources with the local community, integrating Carnegie Mellon students, faculty, and staff with students from the City of Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas. These programs – including Moving 4th Into Engineering, the Summer Engineering Experience for Girls (SEE), and the Accelerator’s contribution to National Engineers Week – provide a breadth of free opportunities for local children to gain hands-on experience and knowledge about education and careers in math, science, and engineering. Moving 4th Into Engineering partners with local fourth-grade teachers to recruit students they feel will benefit from a day of hands-on engineering activities on campus. The Summer Engineering Experience for Girls (SEE) provides a two-week summer camp in which 20-24 area middle school girls engage in engineering activities led by Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff. The Accelerator’s National Engineers Week activity is one of many offered to elementary and secondary students at the Carnegie Science Center.


Gun-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Terry Hart
Co-PIs: Keith Moored

Lehigh University is proposing to develop, in collaboration with Keystone Automation, a gun-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is intended to be produced by Keystone for the U.S. Army's Ammunitions Research and Development Engineering Center (ARDEC). This remote controlled vehicle is to be launched from conventional 40-mm and 60-mm gun systems and operated by Army personnel. It will contain a surveillance camera that will return an image of the surrounding terrain as it is controlled by the operator. The vehicle will also contain guidance, navigation, and control equipment, as well as imaging sensors, that will support future developments requiring formation flying, object recognition, and coordinated maneuvers.