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Archive: 2021
  • Houston Ship Channel Expansion Improvement Project – Navigation Channel Improvement Study: Ship Simulation Results

    Abstract: In 2020, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, provided technical oversight during a navigation study to assist the Galveston District evaluation of different channel widening alternatives for larger ships transiting the Houston Ship Channel (HSC), Texas. The widening proposals encompassed several areas of the HSC including the Bay Section, the Bayport Ship Channel, Barbours Cut Channel, and the Bayou Section. The study was performed at the San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center (SJCMTTC) Ship/Tug Simulator (STS) Facility in La Porte, TX. The SJCMTTC STS is a real-time simulator; therefore, events on the simulator happen at the same time rate as real life. A variety of environmental forces act upon the ship during the simulation transit. These include currents, wind, waves, bathymetry, and ship-to-ship interaction. Online simulations of the project were conducted at SJCMTTC over a 3-week period – May through June 2020. Several mariners including Houston Pilots and G&H tugboat Captains participated in the testing and validation exercises. ERDC oversight was performed remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results in the form of engineering observations, track plots, and pilot interviews were reviewed to develop final conclusions and recommendations regarding the final design.
  • Water Level Management for Enhanced Fish and Wildlife Habitat Production in Upper Mississippi River Navigation Pools: An Engineering with Nature® Review of Practice

    Abstract: There is a long history of fish and wildlife management associated with Upper Mississippi River navigation dams owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Many operational changes have been made to improve aquatic habitat, with recent emphasis on pool-scale drawdowns to enhance wetland benefits without affecting navigation or other uses. This special report describes projects successfully incorporating Engineering With Nature® principles in a review of the physical setting and historical fish and wildlife habitat management efforts using Upper Mississippi River System navigation dams. We reviewed 80 years of adaptation and lessons learned about how to integrate navigation operations and wildlife management. Several experiments have revealed the capacity to produce thousands of hectares of emergent and submersed aquatic plants, restoring much-needed riparian habitat for a variety of aquatic, wetland, and avian species.
  • Mobile Harbor, Alabama Navigation Study: Ship Simulation Report

    Abstract: Mobile Bay is a large estuary located in the southwest corner of Alabama, which connects to the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile Harbor contains the only port in the state that supports ocean-going vessels. Some of the larger vessels calling on the port experience transit delays and limited cargo capacity, so a study was conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District (CESAM), and the Alabama State Port Authority to investigate channel improvements. In 2017, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) assisted CESAM in screening proposed deepening and widening alternatives in Mobile Bay by completing a Feasibility Level Ship Simulation (FLSS) study using the ERDC Ship/Tow Simulator. These lower-resolution databases from the FLSS study were used as a foundation to complete a more robust navigation study in 2020 to test the proposed modifications to Mobile Harbor. During this study, three main areas were focused on: a bend easing, a passing lane, and a turning basin. Testing of the proposed design was evaluated over the course of 2 weeks with eight pilots. Assessment of the proposed modifications was accomplished through analysis of ship simulations completed by experienced local pilots, discussions, track plots, run sheets, and final pilot surveys.
  • Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) for determination of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in volatile emissions from soil disturbance

    Abstract: A method is described here for the concentration and determination of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB) from the gaseous phase, with translation to field collection and quantification from soil disturbances in situ. The method is based on the use of solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers for adsorption of volatile chemicals from the vapor phase, followed by desorption into a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) for analysis. The use of a SPME fiber allows simple introduction to the GC-MS without further sample preparation. Several fiber sorbent types were studied and the 50/30 μm DVB/CAR/PDMS was the best performer to maximize the detected peak areas of both analytes combined. Factors such as extraction temperature and time along with desorption temperature and time were explored with respect to analyte recovery. An extraction temperature of 30 ◦C for 10 min, with a desorption temperature of 230 ◦C for 4 min was best for the simultaneous analysis of both geosmin and 2-MIB without complete loss of either one. The developed method was used successfully to measure geosmin and 2-MIB emission from just above disturbed and undisturbed soils, indicating that this method detects both compounds readily from atmospheric samples. Both geosmin and 2-MIB were present as background concentrations in the open air, while disturbed soils emitted much higher concentrations of both compounds. Surprisingly, 2-MIB was always detected at higher concentrations than geosmin, indicating that a focus on its detection may be more useful for soil emission monitoring and more sensitive to low levels of soil disturbance.
  • Energy Atlas—Mapping Energy-Related Data for DoD Lands in Alaska: Phase 1—Assembling the Data and Designing the Tool

    Abstract: The U.S. Army is the largest Department of Defense (DoD) land user in Alaska, including remote areas only accessible by air, water, or wintertime ice roads. Understanding where energy resources and related infrastructure exist on and adjacent to DoD installations and training lands can help inform Army decision-makers, especially in remote locations like Alaska. The Energy Atlas–Alaska provides a value-added resource to support decision-making for investments in infrastructure and diligent energy management, helping Army installations become more resilient and sustainable. The Energy Atlas–Alaska utilizes spatial information and provides a consistent GIS (geographic information system) framework to access and examine energy and related resource data such as energy resource potential, energy corridors, and environmental information. The database can be made accessible to DoD and its partners through an ArcGIS-based user interface that provides effective visualization and functionality to support analysis and to inform DoD decision-makers. The Energy Atlas–Alaska helps DoD account for energy in contingency planning, acquisition, and life-cycle requirements and ensures facilities can maintain operations in the face of disruption.
  • Engineering With Nature®: Supporting Mission Resilience and Infrastructure Value at Department of Defense Installations

    Abstract: This book illustrates some of the current challenges and hazards experienced by military installations, and the content highlights activities at seven military installations to achieve increased resilience through natural infrastructure.
  • Optimizing the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS)

    Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) continue to affect lakes and waterways across the nation, often resulting in environmental and economic damage at regional scales. The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and collaborators have continued research on the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS) project to develop a rapidly deployable and scalable system for mitigating large HABs. The second year of the project focused on optimization research, including (1) development of a new organic flocculant formulation for neutralization and flotation of algal cells; (2) testing and initial optimization of a new, high-throughput biomass dewatering system with low power requirements; (3) development, design, assembly, and initial testing of the first shipboard HABITATS prototype; (4) execution of two field pilot studies of interception and treatment systems in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; (5) conversion of algal biomass into biocrude fuel at pilot scale with a 33% increase in yield compared to the previous bench scale continuous-flow reactor studies; and (6) refinement of a scalability analysis and optimization model to guide the future development of full-scale prototypes.
  • Evaluating Drone Truthing as an Alternative to Ground Truthing: An Example with Wetland Plant Identification

    Purpose: Satellite remote sensing of wetlands provides many advantages to traditional monitoring and mapping methods. However, remote sensing often remains reliant on labor- and resource- intensive ground truth data for wetland vegetation identification through image classification training and accuracy assessments. Therefore, this study sought to evaluate the use of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) data as an alternative or supplement to traditional ground truthing techniques in support of remote sensing for identifying and mapping wetland vegetation.
  • Installation Resilience in Cold Regions Using Energy Storage Systems

    Abstract: Electrical energy storage (EES) has emerged as a key enabler for access to electricity in remote environments and in those environments where other external factors challenge access to reliable electricity. In cold climates, energy storage technologies face challenging conditions that can inhibit their performance and utility to provide electricity. Use of available energy storage technologies has the potential to improve Army installation resilience by providing more consistent and reliable power to critical infrastructure and, potentially, to broader infrastructure and operations. Sustainable power, whether for long durations under normal operating conditions or for enhancing operational resilience, improves an installation’s ability to maintain continuity of operations for both on- and off-installation missions. Therefore, this work assesses the maturity of energy storage technologies to provide energy stability for Army installations in cold regions, especially to meet critical power demands. The in-formation summarized in this technical report provides a reference for considering various energy storage technologies to support specific applications at Army installations, especially those installations in cold regions.
  • Characterizing Snow Surface Properties Using Airborne Hyperspectral Imagery for Autonomous Winter Mobility

    Abstract: With changing conditions in northern climates it is crucial for the United States to have assured mobility in these high-latitude regions. Winter terrain conditions adversely affect vehicle mobility and, as such, they must be accurately characterized to ensure mission success. Previous studies have attempted to remotely characterize snow properties using varied sensors. However, these studies have primarily used satellite-based products that provide coarse spatial and temporal resolution, which is unsuitable for autonomous mobility. Our work employs the use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mounted hyperspectral camera in tandem with machine learning frameworks to predict snow surface properties at finer scales. Several machine learning models were trained using hyperspectral imagery in tandem with in-situ snow measurements. The results indicate that random forest and k-nearest neighbors models had the lowest Mean Absolute Error for all surface snow properties. A Pearson correlation matrix showed that density, grain size, and moisture content all had a significant positive correlation to one another. Mechanically, density and grain size had a slightly positive correlation to compressive strength, while moisture had a much weaker negative correlation. This work provides preliminary insight into the efficacy of using hyperspectral imagery for characterizing snow properties for autonomous vehicle mobility.