Six state transportation departments and a national cooperative have awarded a University of Texas at Arlington pipeline researcher a $400,000 grant to develop design methodologies for lining their storm-water pipes with a sprayed polymer or cement-like material coating that can extend the design life of those pipes.
Mohammad Najafi, professor in practice in the Department of Civil Engineering, is leading the research through UTA's Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education or CUIRE.
"We will be looking at how this spray-applied pipe liner affects water-carrying capability and structure capacity in these storm-drainage pipes and culverts," said Najafi, who is also the director for CUIRE.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is leading the effort with transportation departments from New York, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota and Pennsylvania also contributing funds. The grant emanated from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which is a forum for coordinated and collaborative research and administered by the Transportation Research Board and in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.
The TRB is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The academies provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.
Najafi's high-profile research will guide future long-term pipeline decisions for these six departments of transportation.
Najafi said in the past, a new slip-lining pipe may have been inserted in the deteriorated pipe, which would have decreased the hydraulic capacity. Other trenchless technology methods, such as cured-in-place-pipe, may also reduce capacity and may not be applicable for larger pipe diameters and hard-to-access locations.
"Those other technologies took up too much room in existing pipes and that reduced how much runoff water could be carried away," Najafi said. "The new polymer is much, much thinner and much, much stronger. The water-carrying capacity isn't negatively impacted. It's important for these transportation departments to be able to fix these pipes in the most cost-efficient way possible. They want to make sure they're making the right decisions because these decisions hopefully will allow them to extend the life of the deteriorated drainage structures another 50 years."
Ali Abolmaali, chair of the Civil Engineering Department and Dr. Tseng Huang Endowed Professor, said Najafi's research adds to UTA's noteworthy portfolio in meeting critical infrastructure needs of the nation.
"Dr. Najafi is a leader in pipeline technology," Abolmaali said. "His research adds to the infrastructure leadership UTA's civil engineering projects have attained during the last several years. "His research results will help these departments of transportation make decisions that will benefit their citizens for many decades."