• Improving Pennsylvania bridges

    According to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2015 National Bridge Inventory, of the 22,783 bridges in Pennsylvania, 21 percent are classified as structurally deficient and another 19 percent are classified as functionally obsolete. Researchers conducted a study to identify the key factors that contribute to premature cracking in concrete bridge decks. The team also assessed the effects of the cracks on the long-term durability of the bridges.

  • Meeting global energy demands with nuclear power

    An international team of scientists suggests that we must ramp up energy production by nuclear power if we are to succeed in warding off the worst effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. The team suggests that beginning in 2020 we could achieve an annual electricity output of 20 terawatts without needing to develop carbon dioxide trapping and storage technology for the tens of billions of tons of emissions that would otherwise drive global warming to catastrophic levels.

  • Bangladesh confronting climate change head on

    Three decades ago, Bangladeshi scientists recognized that global warming would produce more destructive cyclones, heavier rain, and rising sea levels. Combined with the fact that 10 percent of the country is less than two meters above sea level, it was evident that something needed to be done to prevent future catastrophes and protect the lives of Bangladeshi citizens. A new book, which demonstrates how Bangladeshis are confronting climate change head on.

  • Increasing cost of natural hazards as climate changes

    A new comprehensive study of Australian natural hazards paints a picture of increasing heatwaves and extreme bushfires as this century progresses, but with much more uncertainty about the future of storms and rainfall. The study documents the historical record and projected change of seven natural hazards in Australia: flood; storms (including wind and hail); coastal extremes; drought; heatwave; bushfire; and frost.

  • Energy-efficient dyke-inspection robots

    There are many dykes in the Netherlands, and their structural health must be continuously monitored. Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for robots, working in a team and in a highly autonomous way. But if they move around across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day, they use a lot of energy. Introducing charging stations is not a realistic scenario. A Dutch researcher had a better idea: an innovative automatic gearbox or the robots, which uses two metal hemispheres instead of a belt drive.

  • Sensors monitor bridges’ health – and tweet the information they gather

    While bridge collapses are rare, there have been enough of them to raise concerns in some parts of the world that their condition is not sufficiently monitored. Sweden is taking a hi-tech approach to its aging infrastructure. Researchers are rigging up the country’s bridges with multiple sensors that allow early detection of wear and tear. The bridges can even tweet throughout the course of a day.

  • INL’s more adaptive grid better for testing new technologies

    Essential services like power distribution require reliable service and continuous operations. The power grid on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Site is being transitioned to a more adaptive architecture to enable greater flexibility in testing new ideas and technologies.

  • Drowning: Warming above 2 degrees centigrade would place many coastal cities at risk

    The first predications of coastal sea level with warming of two degrees by 2040 show an average rate of increase three times higher than the twentieth century rate of sea level rise. By 2040 with 2 degrees centigrade warming, more than 90 percent of coastal areas will experience sea level rise exceeding the global estimate of 20cm, with up to 40cm expected along the Atlantic coast.

  • People prefer conservation as way to protect drinking water

    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan put the need to protect and invest in clean drinking water front and center in the minds of many Americans. But how to go about investing, as well as how to get the public on board with such spending, is a difficult challenge that faces policymakers. Researchers have found that when given the choice, people prefer to invest their money in conservation, such as protecting key areas of a watershed — also referred to as green infrastructure — than traditional water treatment plants, also referred to as gray infrastructure.

  • Economic impact of inland waterway disruptions potentially in the billions

    What would happen if a lengthy disruption befell the major mode of transportation of U.S. corn and soybeans? What ramifications would that have on U.S. producers and the national economy? How would that affect U.S. competitiveness in world grain markets? While hypothetical, these concerns are very real as the barge corridor in question contains a total of thirty-six locks and dams that have long since surpassed their designed lifespan. This corridor is the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) that serves as the primary corridor for the movement of bulk commodities in the United States. Corn and soybeans comprise nearly 90 percent of food and farm products on these waterways.

  • Immobilizing radioactive waste in glass for millions of years

    How do you handle nuclear waste that will be radioactive for millions of years, keeping it from harming people and the environment? It is not easy, but researchers have discovered ways to immobilize such waste – the offshoot of decades of nuclear weapons production – in glass and ceramics.

  • Natural protection: Coastal wetlands reduce cost of flood damages during hurricanes

    As communities across the Southeast United States and the Caribbean count the cost of flood and wind damage during Hurricane Matthew, a pioneering study has quantified how much protection natural coastal habitats provide during hurricanes. The study found more than $625 million in property damages were prevented during this natural catastrophe by coastal wetlands along the Northeast coast. Without wetlands, the damage bill would be much higher for Sandy and other predicted hurricanes. Where wetlands remain, the average damage reduction from Sandy was greater than 10 percent.

  • Using electricity to track water which causes degradation of concrete

    Tracking concrete degradation is essential to public safety, and the culprit behind concrete degradation is water. Water contributes to the degradation by itself, or it can carry other chemicals – like the road salt used on bridges – that can expedite corrosion of both concrete and its underlying steel reinforcement structure. Researchers have developed a new technique for tracking water in concrete structures — allowing engineers to identify potential issues before they become big problems.

  • The risk of cyber 9/11 or cyber Pearl Harbor exaggerated: Expert

    Addressing the implications of cybersecurity threats for the stability of international world order, an expert acknowledged that states will find it difficult to maintain cybersecurity in an increasingly porous and congested cyberspace, but said that cyber-experts exaggerate the threat to essential state infrastructures.

  • Some early 20th century L.A. earthquakes might have been man-made

    Some early twentieth century earthquakes in southern California might have been induced (man-made) by past practices that were used by the oil and gas industry. During the early decades of the oil boom, withdrawal of oil was not balanced by injection of fluids, in some cases leading to dramatic ground subsidence, and potentially perturbing the sub-surface stress field on nearby faults.