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Category: Technology
  • A Study on the Delta-Bullington Irregular Terrain Radiofrequency Propagation Model: Assessing Model Suitability for Use in Decision Support Tools

    ABSTRACT: Modeling the propagation of radiofrequency signals over irregular terrain is both challenging and critically important in numerous Army applications. One application of particular importance is the performance and radio connectivity of sensors deployed in scenarios where the terrain and the environment significantly impact signal propagation. This report investigates both the performance of and the algorithms and assumptions underlying the Delta-Bullington irregular terrain radiofrequency propagation model discussed in International Telecommunications Union Recommendation P.526-15. The aim is to determine its suitability for use within sensor-planning decision support tools. After reviewing free-space, spherical earth diffraction, and terrain obstacle diffraction losses, the report discusses several important tests of the model, including reciprocity and geographic continuity of propagation loss over large areas of rugged terrain. Overall, the Delta-Bullington model performed well, providing reasonably rapid and geographically continuous propagation loss estimates with computational demands appropriate for operational use.
  • The Mechanics of Snow Friction as Revealed by Micro-Scale Interface Observations

    Abstract: The mechanics of snow friction are central to competitive skiing, safe winter driving and efficient polar sleds. For nearly 80 years, prevailing theory has postulated that self-lubrication accounts for low kinetic friction on snow: dry-contact sliding warms snow grains to the melting point, and further sliding produces meltwater layers that lubricate the interface. We sought to verify that self-lubrication occurs at the grain scale and to quantify the evolution of real contact area to aid modeling. We used high-resolution (15 μm) infrared thermography to observe the warming of stationary snow under a rotating polyethylene slider. Surprisingly, we did not observe melting at contacting snow grains despite low friction values. In some cases, slider shear failed inter-granular bonds and produced widespread snow movement with no persistent contacts to melt (μ < 0.03). When the snow grains did not move and persistent contacts evolved, the slider abraded rather than melted the grains at low resistance (μ < 0.05). Optical microscopy revealed that the abraded particles deposited in air pockets between grains and thereby carried heat away from the interface, a process not included in current models. Overall, our results challenge whether self-lubrication is indeed the dominant mechanism underlying low snow kinetic friction.
  • Infrasound Propagation in the Arctic

    Abstract: This report summarizes results of the basic research project “Infrasound Propagation in the Arctic.” The scientific objective of this project was to provide a baseline understanding of the characteristic horizontal propagation distances, frequency dependencies, and conditions leading to enhanced propagation of infrasound in the Arctic region. The approach emphasized theory and numerical modeling as an initial step toward improving understanding of the basic phenomenology, and thus lay the foundation for productive experiments in the future. The modeling approach combined mesoscale numerical weather forecasts from the Polar Weather Research and Forecasting model with advanced acoustic propagation calculations. The project produced significant advances with regard to parabolic equation modeling of sound propagation in a windy atmosphere. For the polar low, interesting interactions with the stratosphere were found, which could possibly be used to provide early warning of strong stratospheric warming events (i.e., the polar vortex). The katabatic wind resulted in a very strong low-level duct, which, when combined with a highly reflective icy ground surface, leads to efficient long-distance propagation. This information is useful in devising strategies for positioning sensors to monitor environmental phenomena and human activities.
  • Evidence that Abrasion Can Govern Snow Kinetic Friction

    Abstract: The long-accepted theory to explain why snow is slippery postulates self-lubrication: frictional heat from sliding melts and thereby lubricates the contacting snow grains. We recently published micro-scale interface observations that contradicted this explanation: contacting snow grains abraded and did not melt under a polyethylene slider, despite low friction values. Here we provide additional observational and theoretical evidence that abrasion can govern snow kinetic friction. We obtained coordinated infrared, visible-light and scanning-electron micrographs that confirm that the evolving shapes observed during our tribometer tests are contacting snow grains polished by abrasion, and that the wear particles can sinter together and fill the adjacent pore spaces. Furthermore, dry-contact abrasive wear reasonably predicts the evolution of snow-slider contact area and sliding-heat-source theory confirms that contact temperatures would not reach 0°C during our tribometer tests. Importantly, published measurements of interface temperatures also indicate that melting did not occur during field tests on sleds and skis. Although prevailing theory anticipates a transition from dry to lubricated contact along a slider, we suggest that dry-contact abrasion and heat flow can prevent this transition from occurring for snow-friction scenarios of practical interest.
  • Revisiting Mechanics of Ice–Skate Friction: From Experiments at a Skating Rink to a Unified Hypothesis

    Abstract: The mechanics underlying ice–skate friction remain uncertain despite over a century of study. In the 1930s, the theory of self-lubrication from frictional heat supplanted an earlier hypothesis that pressure melting governed skate friction. More recently, researchers have suggested that a layer of abraded wear particles or the presence of quasi-liquid molecular layers on the surface of ice could account for its slipperiness. Here, we assess the dominant hypotheses proposed to govern ice– skate friction and describe experiments conducted in an indoor skating rink aimed to provide observations to test these hypotheses. Our results indicate that the brittle failure of ice under rapid compression plays a strong role. Our observations did not confirm the presence of full contact water films and are more consistent with the presence of lubricating ice-rich slurries at discontinuous high-pressure zones (HPZs). The presence of ice-rich slurries supporting skates through HPZs merges pressure-melting, abrasion and lubricating films as a unified hypothesis for why skates are so slippery across broad ranges of speeds, temperatures and normal loads. We suggest tribometer experiments to overcome the difficulties of investigating these processes during actual skating trials.
  • Velocity Field in the McMurdo Shear Zone from Annual Ground Penetrating Radar Imaging and Crevasse Matching

    Abstract: The McMurdo shear zone (MSZ) is strip of heavily crevassed ice oriented in the south-north direction and moving northward. Previous airborne surveys revealed a chaotic crevasse structure superimposed on a set of expected crevasse orientations at 45 degrees to the south-north flow (due to shear stress mechanisms). The dynamics that produced this chaotic structure are poorly understood. Our purpose is to present our field methodology and provide field data that will enable validation of models of the MSZ evolution, and here, we present a method for deriving a local velocity field from ground penetrating radar (GPR) data towards that end. Maps of near-surface crevasses were derived from two annual GPR surveys of a 28 km2 region of the MSZ using Eulerian sampling. Our robot-towed and GPS navigated GPR enabled a dense survey grid, with transects of the shear zone at 50 m spacing. Each survey comprised multiple crossings of long (> 1 km) crevasses that appear in echelon on the western and eastern boundaries of the shear zone, as well as two or more crossings of shorter crevasses in the more chaotic zone between the western and eastern boundaries. From these maps, we derived a local velocity field based on the year-to-year movement of the same crevasses. Our velocity field varies significantly from fields previously established using remote sensing and provides more detail than one concurrently derived from a 29-station GPS network. Rather than a simple velocity gradient expected for crevasses oriented approximately 45 degrees to flow direction, we find constant velocity contours oriented diagonally across the shear zone with a wavy fine structure. Although our survey is based on near-surface crevasses, similar crevassing found in marine ice at 160 m depth leads us to conclude that this surface velocity field may hold through the body of meteoric and marine ice. Our success with robot-towed GPR with GPS navigation suggests we may greatly increase our survey areas.
  • Ground-penetrating Radar Profiles of the McMurdo Shear Zone, Antarctica, Acquired with an Unmanned Rover: Interpretation of Crevasses, Fractures, and Folds within Firn and Marine Ice

    Abstract: The crevassed firn of the McMurdo shear zone (SZ) within the Ross Ice Shelf may also contain crevasses deep within its meteoric and marine ice, but the surface crevassing prevents ordinary vehicle access to investigate its structure geophysically. We used a lightweight robotic vehicle to tow 200- and 40 MHz ground-penetrating radar antennas simultaneously along 10 parallel transects over a 28 km2 grid spanning the SZ width. Transects were generally orthogonal to the ice flow. Total firn and meteoric ice thickness was approximately 160 m. Firn crevasses profiled at 400 MHz were up to 16 m wide, under snow bridges up to 10 m thick, and with strikes near 35°–40° to the transect direction. From the top down, 200- MHz profiles revealed firn diffractions originating to a depth of approximately 40 m, no discernible structure within the meteoric ice, a discontinuous transitional horizon, and at least 20 m of stratified marine ice; 28–31 m of freeboard found more marine ice exists. Based on 10 consecutive transects covering approximately 2.5 km2, we preliminarily interpreted the transitional horizon to be a thin saline layer, and marine ice hyperbolic diffractions and reflections to be responses to localized fractures, and crevasses filled with unstratified marine ice, all at strikes from 27° to 50°. We preliminarily interpreted off nadir, marine ice horizons to be responses to linear and folded faults, similar to some in firn. The coinciding and synchronously folded areas of fractured firn and marine ice suggested that the visibly unstructured meteoric ice beneath our grid was also fractured, but either never crevassed, crevassed and sutured without marine ice inclusions, or that any ice containing crevasses might have eroded before marine ice accretion. We will test these interpretations with analysis of all transects and by extending our grid and increasing our depth ranges.
  • Phase-Field Modeling of Nonequilibrium Solidification Processes in Additive Manufacturing

    Abstract: This project models dendrite growth during nonequilibrium solidification of binary alloys using the phase-field method (PFM). Understanding the dendrite formation processes is important because the microstructural features directly influence mechanical properties of the produced parts. An improved understanding of dendrite formation may inform design protocols to achieve optimized process parameters for controlled microstructures and enhanced properties of materials. To this end, this work implements a phase-field model to simulate directional solidification of binary alloys. For applications involving strong nonequilibrium effects, a modified antitrapping current model is incorporated to help eject solute into the liquid phase based on experimentally calibrated, velocity-dependent partitioning coefficient. Investigated allow systems include SCN, Si-As, and Ni-Nb. The SCN alloy is chosen to verify the computational method, and the other two are selected for a parametric study due to their different diffusion properties. The modified antitrapping current model is compared with the classical model in terms of predicted dendrite profiles, tip undercooling, and tip velocity. Solidification parameters—the cooling rate and the strength of anisotropy—are studied to reveal their influences on dendrite growth. Computational results demonstrate effectiveness of the PFM and the modified antitrapping current model in simulating rapid solidification with strong nonequilibrium at the interface.
  • Assessing the Feasibility of Detecting Epileptic Seizures Using Non-Cerebral Sensor Data

    Abstract: This paper investigates the feasibility of using non-cerebral, time-series data to detect epileptic seizures. Data were recorded from fifteen patients (7 male, 5 female, 3 not noted, mean age 36.17 yrs), five of whom had a total of seven seizures. Patients were monitored in an inpatient setting using standard video-electroencephalography (vEEG), while also wearing sensors monitoring electrocardiography, electrodermal activity, electromyography, accelerometry, and audio signals (vocalizations). A systematic and detailed study was conducted to identify the sensors and the features derived from the non-cerebral sensors that contribute most significantly to separability of data acquired during seizures from non-seizure data. Post-processing of the data using linear discriminant analysis (LDA) shows that seizure data are strongly separable from non-seizure data based on features derived from the signals recorded. The mean area under the receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve for each individual patient that experienced a seizure during data collection, calculated using LDA, was 0.9682. The features that contribute most significantly to seizure detection differ for each patient. The results show that a multimodal approach to seizure detection using the specified sensor suite is promising in detecting seizures with both sensitivity and specificity. Moreover, the study provides a means to quantify the contribution of each sensor and feature to separability. Development of a non-electroencephalography (EEG) based seizure detection device would give doctors a more accurate seizure count outside of the clinical setting, improving treatment and the quality of life of epilepsy patients.
  • Evaluation of Geocell-Reinforced Backfill for Airfield Pavement Repair

    Abstract: After an airfield has been attacked, temporary airfield pavement repairs should be accomplished quickly to restore flight operations. Often, the repairs are made with inadequate materials and insufficient manpower due to limited available resources. Legacy airfield damage repair (ADR) methods for repairing bomb damage consist of using bomb damage debris to fill the crater, followed by placement of crushed stone or rapid-setting flowable fill backfill with a foreign object debris (FOD) cover. While these backfill methods have provided successful results, they are heavily dependent on specific material and equipment resources that are not always readily available. Under emergency conditions, it is desirable to reduce the logistical burden while providing a suitable repair, especially in areas with weak subgrades. Geocells are cellular confinement systems of interconnected cells that can be used to reinforce geotechnical materials. The primary benefit of geocells is that lower quality backfill materials can be used instead of crushed stone to provide a temporary repair. This report summarizes a series of laboratory and field experiments performed to evaluate different geocell materials and geometries in combinations with a variety of soils to verify their effectiveness at supporting heavy aircraft loads. Results provide specific recommendations for using geocell technology for backfill reinforcement for emergency airfield repairs.