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Category: Publications: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
  • Evaluation of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Methods for Wood Power Poles

    Abstract: This technical report aims to test the effectiveness of several non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies on wood utility poles to detect deterioration. The project will assess commercially available devices using sound velocity and drilling resistance methods for in-field measurements. The goal is to extend the lifetime of wood poles, prevent unexpected failure, and enhance their in-service life beyond the current 75-year expectation. Despite the benefits of wood poles, it is difficult to obtain reliable deterioration metrics on in-service poles, which can lead to premature decommissioning or pole failure. NDT methods have been developed to replace labor-intensive methods, but none have been largely adopted in common practice. Therefore, creating a database of validated data would expedite adoption. Integrating precise and efficient wood utility pole NDT can increase installation energy resiliency and facility sustainment in a fiscally responsible way, ensuring high standards of delivery of services.
  • Isolation and Characterization of Bacterial Isolates from Alaskan Permafrost for Synthetic Biology Applications

    Abstract: Operations in the Artic and other cold regions require technologies that can perform reliably under extreme cold conditions. Permafrost and frozen soils harbor a wide range of microorganisms that have adapted to extremely low temperatures and have unique metabolic capabilities relevant to military operations and that could be exploited to develop biotechnologies optimized for cold environments. Cold-tolerant bacteria (psychrophiles and psychrotrophs) are critical to the development of synthetic biology technologies meant to work in cold environments like the Arctic. Using bacteria isolated from Alaskan permafrost, we applied an experimental pipeline to test the best candidates for use as biological platforms, or chassis, for low-temperature synthetic biology. Since synthetic biology constructs will perform only as well as their chassis, it is critical that circuits expected to perform under extreme cold conditions are housed in chassis that are adapted to those conditions. We identified one permafrost isolate, PTI8, related to Rhodococcus fascians, that is capable of growing from −1°C to at least 25°C and which we experimentally confirmed to uptake and express the broad host range plasmid pBTK519, suggesting PTI8 is a candidate for use as a novel cold-adapted chassis for synthetic biology.
  • Cold Impacts on Vehicle Electrical Systems: Developing a Baseline for Cold Testing Military Vehicles

    Abstract: Low temperatures can significantly affect vehicle operation. While many of the effects, like increased fluid viscosity and decreased battery capacity, are well documented, the impacts on the electrical system as a whole are not. The objective of this study was to investigate the impacts of temperature on the electrical systems of select military vehicles and to develop a baseline for future testing. A High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), and a four-person diesel Polaris MRZR D4 were subjected to 15°C, 0°C, and −15°C temperatures while the loads on the battery and alternator were monitored. The HMMWV and MRZR were able to start on the first try for all tests. They both showed a slight increase in vehicle load current draw from the alternator as temperatures decreased. Future testing with more iterations and at lower temperatures will help identify clearer trends and improve testing procedures. As the Army becomes more reliant on electronic systems, it is becoming increasingly important that we understand how various climates will impact them.
  • International Workshop on Cold Regions Defense Infrastructure: 13–15 September 2022, Hanover, New Hampshire

    Abstract: The Inaugural International Workshop on Cold Regions Defense Infrastructure united engineers and scientists of the US Department of Defense with defense representatives from the other nations comprising the International Cooperative Engagement Program for Polar Research (ICE-PPR): Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand. Through the ICE-PPR Memorandum of Understanding, Project Arrangements (PAs) enable the seven nations to share measurements, models, and access to research sites and facilities. The goal of the workshop was to work as a coherent team to identify needs and develop PAs for three major topic areas: infrastructure, water/wastewater, and energy. Increasing interest in earth’s polar regions necessitates identifying capabilities and gaps for these critical mission-relevant topic areas.
  • Phase-Modulated Rice Model for Statistical Distributions of Complex Signals

    Abstract: The basic Rice model is commonly used to describe complex signal statistics from randomly scattered waves. It correctly describes weak (Born) scattering, as well as fully saturated scattering, and smoothly interpolates between these extremes. However, the basic Rice model is unsuitable for situations involving scattering by random inhomogeneities spanning a broad range of spatial scales, as commonly occurs for sound scattering by turbulence in the atmospheric boundary layer and other scenarios. In such scenarios, the phase variations are often considerably stronger than those predicted by the basic Rice model. Therefore, the basic Rice model is extended to include a random modulation in the signal phase, which is attributable to the influence of the largest, most energetic inhomogeneities in the propagation medium. Various joint and marginal distributions for the complex signal statistics are derived to incorporate the phase-modulation effect. Approximations of the phase-modulated Rice model involving the Nakagami distribution for amplitude, and the wrapped normal and von Mises distributions for phase, are also developed and analyzed. The phase-modulated Rice model and various approximations are shown to greatly improve agreement with simulated data for sound propagation in the near-ground atmosphere.
  • Testing Expedient Ground Anchor Solutions for Guyed Towers in Remote Cold Regions: Considerations for Cold Remote Regions with Limited Tools

    Abstract: Ground anchors connected to guy wires for tower structures in cold climates suffer from frost heaving, which causes loss of wire tension and subsequent structural instability. It is necessary to understand what ground anchors are available to resist this tendency yet are still capable of expedient installation in remote areas. To that end, three metal, traditional ground-anchor types (arrowhead, bullet, and penetrating auger) and one novel polyvinyl chloride (PVC) T-post anchor were evaluated in frozen gravels and frozen silts at a research facility in Fairbanks, Alaska. Criteria included installation capability, failure loading, and removal ability. Additionally, expedient installation techniques for use in field conditions were also demonstrated. All three traditional ground anchors failed to penetrate frozen gravels. The penetrating auger also failed to penetrate frozen silts, but the arrowhead and bullet anchors did penetrate frozen silts with difficulty. The PVC anchor is capable of being installed only in a predrilled pilot hole. Under flexural load, the arrowhead anchor cable failed at 3686.72 lb, and the bullet anchor cable failed at 1753.44 lb. The PVC slid out of its hole at a direct-pull force of 1978.24 lb and failed under flexural stress at 202.32 lb.
  • Comparison of the Quantitation of Heavy Metals in Soil Using Handheld LIBS, XRFS, and ICP-OES

    Abstract: Handheld laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is an emerging analytical technique that shows the potential to replace X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRFS) in the field characterization of soils containing heavy metals. This study explored the accuracy and precision of handheld LIBS for analyzing soils containing copper and zinc to support LIBS as a re-placement for XRFS technology in situ. Success was defined by handheld LIBS results that could be replicated across field analyzers and verified by inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). A total of 108 soil samples from eight military installations were pressed into 13 mm pellets and then analyzed by XRFS and LIBS. Handheld LIBS has a spot-size area 100-fold smaller than that of XRFS, and though it provided accurate measurements for NIST-certified reference materials, it was not able to measure unknown soils of varying soil texture with high particle size variability, regardless of sample size. Thus, soil sample particle size heterogeneity hindered the ability to provide accurate results and replicate quantitation results across LIBS and XRFS. Increasing the number of particles encountered by each shot through particle size reduction improved both field-analyzer correlation and the correlation between handheld LIBS and ICP-OES from weak (<15%) to strong (>80%).
  • A Generalized Photon-Tracking Approach to Simulate Spectral Snow Albedo and Transmittance Using X-ray Microtomography and Geometric Optics

    Abstract: A majority of snow radiative transfer models (RTMs) treat snow as a collection of idealized grains rather than an organized ice–air matrix. Here we present a generalized multi-layer photon-tracking RTM that simulates light reflectance and transmittance of snow based on X-ray micro- tomography images, treating snow as a coherent 3D structure rather than a collection of grains. The model uses a blended approach to expand ray-tracing techniques applied to sub-1 cm3 snow samples to snowpacks of arbitrary depths. While this framework has many potential applications, this study’s effort is focused on simulating reflectance and transmittance in the visible and near infrared (NIR) through thin snow- packs as this is relevant for surface energy balance and remote sensing applications. We demonstrate that this framework fits well within the context of previous work and capably reproduces many known optical properties of a snow surface, including the dependence of spectral reflectance on the snow specific surface area and incident zenith angle as well as the surface bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF). To evaluate the model, we compare it against reflectance data collected with a spectroradiometer at a field site in east-central Vermont. In this experiment, painted panels were inserted at various depths beneath the snow to emulate thin snow. The model compares remarkably well against the reflectance measured with a spectroradiometer, with an average RMSE of 0.03 in the 400–1600 nm range. Sensitivity simulations using this model indicate that snow transmittance is greatest in the visible wavelengths, limiting light penetration to the top 6 cm of the snowpack for fine-grain snow but increasing to 12 cm for coarse-grain snow. These results suggest that the 5% transmission depth in snow can vary by over 6 cm according to the snow type.
  • Application of a Satellite-Retrieved Sheltering Parameterization (v1.0) for Dust Event Simulation with WRF-Chem v4.1

    Abstract: Roughness features (e.g., rocks, vegetation, furrows) that attenuate wind flow over the soil surface can affect the magnitude and distribution of sediment transport in aeolian environments. Existing transport models often rely on vegetation attributes derived from static land use datasets or remotely sensed greenness indicators to incorporate sheltering effects on simulated particle mobilization. These approaches do not represent the 3D nature or spatiotemporal changes of roughness element sheltering and ignore the sheltering contribution of nonvegetation roughness features and brown vegetation common to dryland environments. We used an albedo-based sheltering parameterization in a dust transport modeling application of the Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem). This method estimates sheltering effects on surface wind friction speeds and dust entrainment from the shadows cast by subgrid-scale roughness elements. We applied the albedo-derived drag partition to the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) dust emission module and studied simulated PM10 concentrations using the Goddard Global Ozone Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) model as implemented in WRF-Chem v4.1. Our results demonstrate how dust transport simulation and forecasting with the AFWA dust module can be improved in vegetated drylands by calculating dust emission flux with surface wind friction speed from a drag partition treatment.
  • Analysis of Paxton Siphon Frazil Ice Blockage Event during January 2022

    Abstract: In early January 2022, the Paxton Siphon, owned and operated by the Nebraska Public Power District, filled with frazil ice creating a blockage that resulted in a rapid upstream stage rise for the Sutherland Canal. An event of this type has never happened in the over 80 years of operating the Paxton Siphon. An analysis of the available weather and canal data suggests a rapid air temperature change resulted in the water becoming supercooled, which combined with the moderately low flows in the canal resulted in an anomalous frazil ice formation event. To address this issue for future cold weather events, a water temperature model was developed using the Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System and can be used to determine the spatial extents of the supercooling event using forecasted weather information. In addition, we developed a heat-exchange forecast tool that can be used operationally to screen for potential frazil ice formation periods with a 1-week outlook period.