9 March 2014 A new vision of the post-NIST civil infrastructure program: the challenges of next-generation construction materials and processes
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Our nation’s infrastructural systems are crumbling. The deteriorating process grows over time. The physical aging of these vital facilities and the remediation of their current critical state pose a key societal challenge to the United States. Current sensing technologies, while well developed in controlled laboratory environments, have not yet yielded tools for producing real-time, in-situ data that are adequately comprehensible for infrastructure decision-makers. The need for advanced sensing technologies is national because every municipality and state in the nation faces infrastructure management challenges. The need is critical because portions of infrastructure are reaching the end of their life-spans and there are few cost-effective means to monitor infrastructure integrity and to prioritize the renovation and replacement of infrastructure elements. New advanced sensing technologies that produce cost-effective inspection and real-time monitoring data, and that can also help or aid in meaningful interpretation of the acquired data, therefore will enhance the safety in regard to the public on structural integrity by issuing timely and accurate alert data for effective maintenance to avoid disasters happening. New advanced sensing technologies also allow more informed management of infrastructural investments by avoiding premature replacement of infrastructure and identifying those structures in need of immediate action to prevent from catastrophic failure. Infrastructure management requires that once a structural defect is detected, an economical and efficient repair be made. Advancing the technologies of repairing infrastructure elements in contact with water, road salt, and subjected to thermal changes requires innovative research to significantly extend the service life of repairs, lower the costs of repairs, and provide repair technologies that are suitable for a wide range of conditions. All these new technologies will provide increased lifetimes, security, and safety of elements of critical infrastructure for the Nation’s already deteriorating civil infrastructure. It is envisioned that the Nation should look far beyond: not only should we efficiently and effectively address current problems of the aging infrastructure, but we must also further develop next-generation construction materials and processes for new construction. To accomplish this ambitious goal, we must include process efficiency that will help select the most reliable and cost-effective materials in construction processes; performance and cost will be the prime consideration for selections construction materials based on life-cycle cost and materials performance; energy efficiency will drive reduced energy consumption from current levels by 50 % per unit of output; and environmental responsiveness will achieve net-zero waste from construction materials and its constituents. Should it be successfully implemented, we will transform the current 21st century infrastructure systems to enable the vital functioning of society and improve competitiveness of the economy to ensure that our quality of life remains high.
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H. Felix Wu, H. Felix Wu, Yan Wan, Yan Wan, "A new vision of the post-NIST civil infrastructure program: the challenges of next-generation construction materials and processes", Proc. SPIE 9063, Nondestructive Characterization for Composite Materials, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, and Homeland Security 2014, 90630I (9 March 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2046318; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2046318


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