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Category: Publications: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
  • A Comparison of Handheld Field Chemical Sensors for Soil Characterization with a Focus on LIBS

    Abstract: Commercially available handheld chemical analyzers for forensic applications have been available for over a decade. Portable systems from multiple vendors can perform X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and recently laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). Together, we have been exploring the development and potential applications of a multisensor system consisting of XRF, Raman, and LIBS for environmental characterization with a focus on soils from military ranges. Handheld sensors offer the potential to substantially increase sample throughput through the elimination of transport of samples back to the laboratory and labor-intensive sample preparation procedures. Further, these technologies have the capability for extremely rapid analysis, on the order of tens of seconds or less. We have compared and evaluated results from the analysis of several hundred soil samples using conventional laboratory bench top inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) for metals evaluation and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and Raman spectroscopy for detection and characterization of energetic materials against handheld XRF, LIBS, and Raman analyzers. The soil samples contained antimony, copper, lead, tungsten, and zinc as well as energetic compounds such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), hexahydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX), nitroglycerine (NG), and dinitrotoluene isomers (DNT). Precision, accuracy, and sensitivity of the handheld field sensor technologies were compared against conventional laboratory instrumentation to determine their suitability for field characterization leading to decisional outcomes.
  • VI Preferential Pathways of a Large Government Building

    Abstract: Trichloroethylene (TCE) releases from leaks and spills next to a large government building occurred over several decades with the most recent event occurring 20 years ago. In response to a perceived conventional vapor intrusion (VI) issue a sub-slab depressurization system (SSDS) was installed 6 years ago. The SSDS is operating within design limits and has achieved building TCE vapor concentration reductions. However, subsequent periodic TCE vapor spikes based on daily HAPSITE™ measurements indicate additional source(s). Two rounds of smoke tests conducted in 2017 and 2018 involved introduction of smoke into a sanitary sewer and storm drain manholes located on effluent lines coming from the building until smoke was observed exiting system vents on the roof. Smoke testing revealed many leaks in both the storm sewer and sanitary sewer systems within the building. Sleuthing of the VI source term using a portable HAPSITE™ indicate elevated vapor TCE levels correspond with observed smoke emanation from utility lines. Sleuthing activities also found building roof materials explain some of the elevated TCE levels on the 2nd floor. Installation of an external blower in the roof truss space has greatly reduced TCE levels. Preferential VI pathways and unexpected source terms may be overlooked mechanisms as compared to conventional VI.
  • Dynamics Modeling and Robotic-Assist, Leader-Follower Control of Tractor Convoys

    Abstract: This paper proposes a generalized dynamics model and a leader-follower control architecture for skid-steered tracked vehicles towing polar sleds. The model couples existing formulations in the literature for the powertrain components with the vehicle-terrain interaction to capture the salient features of terrain trafficability and predict the vehicles response. This coupling is essential for making realistic predictions of the vehicles traversing capabilities due to the power-load relationship at the engine output. The objective of the model is to capture adequate fidelity of the powertrain and off-road vehicle dynamics while minimizing the computational cost for model based design of leader-follower control algorithms. The leader-follower control architecture presented proposes maintaining a flexible formation by using a look-ahead technique along with a way point following strategy. Results simulate one leader-follower tractor pair where the leader is forced to take an abrupt turn and experiences large oscillations of its drawbar arm indicating potential payload instability. However, the follower tractor maintains the flexible formation but keeps its payload stable. This highlights the robustness of the proposed approach where the follower vehicle can reject errors in human leader driving.
  • Observation of Crack Arrest in Ice by High Aspect Ratio Particles during Uniaxial Compression

    Abstract: In nature, ice frequently contains dissolved solutes or entrapped particles, which modify the microstructure and mechanical properties of ice. Seeking to understand the effect of particle shape and geometry on the mechanical properties of ice, we performed experiments on ice containing 15 wt% silica spheres or rods. Unique to this work was the use of 3-D microstructural imaging in a -10ºC cold room during compressive loading of the sample. The silica particles were present in the ice microstructure as randomly dispersed aggregates within grains and at grain boundaries. While cracks originated in particle-free regions in both sphere- and rod-containing samples, the propagation of cracks was quite different in each type of sample. Cracks propagated uninhibited through aggregates of spherical particles but were observed to arrest at and propagate around aggregates of rods. These results imply that spherical particles do not inhibit grain boundary sliding or increase viscous drag. On the other hand, silica rods were found to span grains, thereby pinning together the microstructure of ice during loading. These results provide insights into mechanisms that can be leveraged to strengthen ice.
  • Energy Atlas—Mapping Energy-Related Data for DoD Lands in Alaska: Phase 2—Data Expansion and Portal Development

    ABSTRACT: As the largest Department of Defense (DoD) land user in Alaska, the U.S. Army oversees over 600,000 hectares of land, including remote areas accessible only by air, water, and winter ice roads. Spatial information related to the energy resources and infrastructure that exist on and adjacent to DoD installations can help inform decision makers when it comes to installation planning. The Energy Atlas−Alaska portal provides a secure value-added resource to support the decision-making process for energy management, investments in installation infrastructure, and improvements to energy resiliency and sustainability. The Energy Atlas–Alaska portal compiles spatial information and provides that information through a secure online portal to access and examine energy and related resource data such as energy resource potential, energy corridors, and environmental information. The information database is hosted on a secure Common Access Card–authenticated portal that is accessible to the DoD and its partners through the Army Geospatial Center’s Enterprise Portal. This Enterprise Portal provides effective visualization and functionality to support analysis and inform DoD decision makers. The Energy Atlas–Alaska portal helps the DoD account for energy in contingency planning, acquisition, and life-cycle requirements and ensures facilities can maintain operations in the face of disruption.
  • Implementation of an Albedo-Based Drag Partition into the WRF-Chem v4.1 AFWA Dust Emission Module

    ABSTRACT: Employing numerical prediction models can be a powerful tool for fore-casting air quality and visibility hazards related to dust events. However, these numerical models are sensitive to surface conditions. Roughness features (e.g., rocks, vegetation, furrows, etc.) that shelter or attenuate wind flow over the soil surface affect the magnitude and spatial distribution of dust emission. To aide in simulating the emission phase of dust transport, we used a previously published albedo-based drag partition parameterization to better represent the component of wind friction speed affecting the immediate soil surface. This report serves as a guide for integrating this parameterization into the Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model. We include the procedure for preprocessing the required input data, as well as the code modifications for the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) dust emission module. In addition, we provide an example demonstration of output data from a simulation of a dust event that occurred in the Southwestern United States, which incorporates use of the drag partition.
  • 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.