Structures Testing Facilities

The System and Process Assessment Research Laboratory

Figure 1: SPAR Lab Room 103
Figure 2: SPAR Lab Room 104-D

The SPAR (System and Process Assessment Research) Laboratory was inaugurated on Friday, October 31st. The SPAR Lab results from extensive interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary collaborations among civil engineering, electrical engineering, material science and engineering, computer science, and chemistry departments in the past 10 years and is led by Lab Director and Robert W. Abbett Distinguished Chair in Civil Engineering, Dr. Genda Chen. The SPAR Lab is capable of exploring both scientifically intriguing and pragmatically challenging solutions to aging infrastructure problems in the U.S., supporting conceptualization, development, experimentation, and implementation of key measurement technologies. The SPAR Lab takes a problem-driven, technology-based approach and pioneers the "lab-on-sensor" design concept of sensors to address a multitude of assessment and maintenance issues we face both nationally and internationally today. It features the following specialized capabilities:

The SPAR Lab has the following equipment:


The Highbay Structural Laboratory

Figure 3: Missouri S&T Research/Education Laboratory

The Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Hall at Missouri S&T was expanded and renovated between 1999-2003. The Structures Laboratory was put into use in April 2003; it includes a highbay structures laboratory (HSL), materials laboratories, and a machine shop (see Figure 3). The HSL was built with easy access to two major streets in the area. The HSL has 770 m2 of usable floor area for testing and evaluation of structural components and systems. The laboratory is approximately 35 m long (see Figure 3), which is ideal for testing large- and full-scale structures. Inside the laboratory a 20-ton overhead crane was installed with a vertical clearance of 6 m.

The laboratory also has an L-shaped reaction wall that is 5.5 m in height (see Figure 4). Outside the north entrance of the laboratory a loading dock was built with an exterior crane of the same capacity as the interior to load and unload large specimens. The HSL also has a twin tunnel basement under the 258 m2 strong floor to facilitate anchorage of testing setups. The adjacent materials laboratories (831 m2) are connected to the HSL. They are available for the preparation of structural specimens and related materials testing. The machine shop provides support for the fabrication of custom equipment and test specimens.

The HSL also houses an MTS 840 vibration shaking table test system. It is an electro-hydraulic closed loop system from MTS Systems Corporation, which is essentially a displacement control system operating on a closed loop principle. It consists of a slip table, hydraulic actuator, and an electronic control package. This shaking table can provide for one controlled degree of freedom. It oscillates horizontally on a bed of oil with almost zero friction moved by the ram of an electro-hydraulic actuator system. Various displacement patterns can be simulated by programming the actuator. Sine, ramp, random or irregular waveforms can be applied to the table. The platform measures 1.2 m x 2.1 m in plan. The shaking table load capacity is 90 kN and the maximum acceleration is 1.0 g with a nominal frequency range of 0.1-10 Hz. The peak stroke of the slip table is ±1.0 in. and the maximum table velocity is 24 in/sec.

The Missouri S&T Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department (CArEE) acquired research equipment capable of testing large-scale specimens in the spring of 2003. Since then, testing has been successfully conducted on large-scale elements such as column-beam joints and girders (see Figure 4 and Figure 5). The testing equipment consists of three hydraulic actuators with servo-controlled valves for pseudo-static testing. The three actuators consist of 2-MTS 490kN force capacity and a +/-610mm stroke capacity, and 1-MTS 1.8 MN force capacity and a +/-610mm stroke capacity at a maximum speed of 0.1 m/sec. To complement this equipment, the following are also available: hydraulic service manifolds, one 350-litter/m hydraulic power pump, and one MTS-493.05 FlexTest GT electronic control system. In addition, assembly of a 128-channel high-capacity data acquisition system (DAS) was completed. This system has a capacity for expansion to 256-channels.

Figure 4: Large Scale Beam-Column Joint
Figure 5: Beam Torsion and Flexure

CArEE also has a MTS880 universal testing machine (556kN capacity and a +/-152.4mm stroke), a Tinius-Olsen L120000 loading machine (600kN capacity), and a Baldwin/Forney testing machine (2,224kN capacity and a 254mm stroke). Together with the MTS880 testing machine, the Camac crate with a PC can be used to record 64 channels of streaming data at the rate of 1.0 MHz. The laboratory is also equipped with a 32-channel data acquisition that is capable of streaming data at 100 kHz. It can be interfaced with the Tinius-Olsen and Baldwin loading machines. Two hydraulic actuators (2298kN capacity and a +/-76mm stroke) are also available for testing of small components. They are fatigue rated as 45kN at the rate of 3 Hz. Both have been extensively used to test small-scale structural members. In addition, 6 loading jacks with range in capacity between 445kN and 890kN are on hand.

Field Monitoring and Testing Equipment

Figure 6: Data Acquisition System ("Orange Box")

Several hydraulic jacks with capacity exceeding 60 Ton as well as deflection and strain instruments are available for various tests.

A portable data acquisition system unit is also available for use in laboratory and field testing of structures. It is capable of recording 32 high-level channels of data, 16 strain channels, and 32 thermocouple channels, as well as interfacing with a Leica Total Station surveying instrument (See Figure 6).

The high-level channels may receive DC LVDT's, string transducers, linear potentiometers, or any other +/- 10 Volt DC signal. The strain channels can be used to monitor and record strain gage signals, load cells, strain-based displacement transducers, or any strain based signal. The 32 thermocouple channels are configured for type T thermocouples.

The unit consists of a shock-mounted transport box, with removable front and rear covers. Removal of the front cover exposes the computer keyboard and LED display, as well as the front panel of the data acquisition equipment. Removal of the back panel exposes the connector bay, where cables from all the transducers terminate.

The data acquisition system is comprised of National Instruments equipment, listed below:

The data acquisition system is controlled by a custom made LabVIEW program installed on a built-in computer, which allows control of data rate, sensor selection and calibration, and display of the data. Five additional optical displacement transducers are also equipped on the system. Such transducers are non contact sensors with resolutions in the order of 10-6 m on a 100 m length.

Missouri S&T also owns two trucks and two trailers for field testing.