• Bacteria knit together cracked concrete

    Students at Newcastle University genetically modified a microbe, programming it to swim down fine cracks in the concrete; once at the bottom, it produces a mixture of calcium carbonate and a bacterial glue which combine with the filamentous bacterial cells to “knit” the building back together

  • Purdue engineers test effects of fire on steel structures

    Building fires may reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit; at that temperature, exposed steel would take about twenty-five minutes to lose about 60 percent of its strength and stiffness; Purdue researchers experiment with ways to make steel more fire-resistant

  • GWU earthquake simulator helps engineering prepare for the real thing

    George Washington University laboratory’s “shake table” — a $1 million, 10-by-10-foot metal structure that moves in six directions — replicates earthquakes and allows engineering students to test construction materials to see how they hold up under tremors of varying strength

  • New Orleans levee committee uneasy with Corps of Engineers modeling

    The Army Corps of Engineers uses complex computer models for hazard analysis calculations on which billions of dollars worth of repairs and improvements to the federal hurricane levee system are being based; the members of the regional levee commission want their own expert to scrutinize these computer models

  • U.K.'s government unveils £200 billion National Infrastructure Plan

    David Cameron announces infrastructure plan to rebuild the economy a week after sweeping government cuts; the plan calls for a government commitment of over £40 billion directed to infrastructure projects, including a Green Investment Bank that provides up to £1 billion toward a commercial scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects; £30 billion for transportation, including a high speed rail network, maintenance, and investment in local roads and rail and funding towards the Network Rail

  • Smog-eating concrete for Missouri highways

    Missouri highway is paved with smog-eating concrete; the concrete contains an active ingredient that captures pollution and UV light from the sun breaks it down into harmless chemicals

  • New technology weighs trucks while trucks are in motion

    Israeli researchers develop a method to detect overloaded trucks quickly and efficiently — while the trucks are in motion; the system, which has potential for use in law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance monitoring, and road and bridge design and planning

  • U.K. railways threatened by changes in rainfall patterns

    Some of the U.K.’s railway infrastructure was built in the nineteenth century on unprepared foundations, before engineers understood soil mechanics; rail embankments are structures made of soil and rock, which are always be affected by climate — particularly rainfall patterns

  • High performance materials for the tunnel of the century

    On 15 October Swiss engineers finished their work on the Gotthard Tunnel — longest rail tunnel in the world; the 57-km (35.4-mile) high-speed rail link, which will open in 2017, will form the lynchpin of a new rail network between northern and southeastern Europe and help ease congestion and pollution in the Swiss Alps

  • America's latest wonder: Hoover Dam companion bridge

    After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. feared a terrorist with a truck bomb could attack the Hoover Dam, potentially flooding vast areas and disrupting water and power supplies to several states; semi-trucks were banned from bridge, forced to take route to Las Vegas that is more than forty miles longer; new 1,900-foot-long structure will reroutes traffic off of the two-lane road atop the dam, will improve traffic in the region, and help protect the dam from terrorist threats; it is the seventh highest bridge in the world and it is held up by the longest arch in the Western Hemisphere

  • Geologists warn of warming-induced landslides flattening cities

    There are 39 cities around the world with populations greater than 100,000 — and an untold number of smaller towns and villages — which are situated within 100 kilometers of a volcano that has collapsed in the past and which may, therefore, be capable of collapsing in the future; thinning glaciers on volcanoes could destabilize vast chunks of summit cones, triggering mega-landslides capable of flattening cities such as Seattle and devastating local infrastructure

  • Curved escalators can follow any path upward

    A retired British mechanical engineering professor designed an escalator, or conveyance — dubbed the Levytator — that can be designed into any shape, so architects can incorporate escalators that follow curves rather than travel in straight lines; the Levytator moves a continuous loop of curved steps, which can follow any path upwards, flatten, and straighten, and descend again with passengers onboard

  • Bridge column withstands 6.9 quake in tests

    Engineers in California test a bridge column design capable of withstanding a 6.9 quake; nearly all of California’s 2,194 state-owned bridges have been retrofitted better to withstand tremors; local cities and counties across California own 1,193 with work done on 729 of them

  • The National Infrastructure Bank idea gains adherents

    The U.S. aging infrastructure will eventually constrain economic growth; government alone can no longer finance all of the nation’s infrastructure requirements; a national infrastructure bank (NIB) could fill the gap; the NIB could attract private funds to co-invest in projects that pass rigorous cost-benefit tests, and that generate revenues through user fees or revenue guarantees from state and local governments; investors could choose which projects meet their investment criteria, and, in return, share in project risks that today fall solely on taxpayers

  • Using bacteria to create self-healing concrete

    Cement production has an impact on the environment as it is very energy intensive, accounting for about 7 percent of the total anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 emissions; in addition to the energy consumption from production and transportation, air pollution, as well as land use and impacts on the landscape from related mining activities are also matters of concern; means of increasing the service life of concrete structures would make the material not only more durable, but also more sustainable — and researchers find that embedding certain bacteria in the concrete promises to do just that