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CAIT NDE Team at Niagara Dam
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CAIT experts demonstrate NDE benefits on the third largest dam in North America
CAIT's nondestructive evaluation (NDE) team traveled to the Robert Moses-Niagara Dam to demonstrate NDE technologies to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) on July 17. The authority is preparing for a multi-year rehabilitation effort of hydroelectric facilities in New York, so knowing the condition of their facilities is key.
The teams gathered detailed data on around 1,000 square feet of searing concrete. Mainly, the researchers were looking for areas of corrosion and delamination (internal cracks caused by corrosion of the rebar in the structure).
The project was coordinated by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nonprofit that brings together experts from academia and the industry to research, develop, and demonstrate technologies and methods to improve generation, delivery and use of electricity.
Dr. Nenad Gucunski, leader of CAIT’s Infrastructure Condition Monitoring Program (ICMP) praised the team, “These guys worked nearly 11 hours in extreme temperatures and they did an outstanding job. The majority of the testing we do is on bridges, so we were happy for the ‘change of scenery’ and the opportunity EPRI gave us to demonstrate the benefits of NDE to the power industry.”
Maria Guimaraes from EPRI explained, “Concrete could be damaged by corrosion of the reinforcement, it could be water seeping through it, it could be a delamination, so the way of sensing is different.” Guimaraes said a main objective of the day was to bring different advanced testing techniques to demonstrate their usefulness in detecting critical—and often invisible—issues in concrete structures.
The University of Texas and partner International Climbing Machines (ICM) demonstrated a robotic crawler that could lessen the danger inherent in condition assessment of large structures such as cooling towers, hydro dams, and reactor containments. The crawler, about the size of an electric lawnmower, adheres to vertical surfaces using vacuum suction and carries around 40 pounds of onboard systems, mainly sound wave and mapping technologies. The potential for the robot to carry a wider range of tools that collect condition data, like those deployed by the CAIT team, is promising.
Said George F. Wong, NYPA senior civil engineer, “In the traditional method we have to send inspectors up on swing stages or scaffolding. We even had people rappelling off the dam once to do the inspection. When this technology has been perfected, it will eliminate [the potential dangers] in the performance of routine structural evaluations.”
Wong continued, “The benefit [of NDE] to NYPA is quicker inspection, less downtime of our asset, and also a more cost-effective way of doing the inspection.”
Photo (top right): The Robert Moses-Niagara Dam, is located about 4.5 miles downstream from the falls. It is the third largest hydroelectric dam in North America and supplies one quarter of all the power used in New York State.
Photo (middle left): CAIT NDE team member Brian Pailes (right) administers MoistScan, a microwave technology used to find presence and level of moisture in concrete. Excessive moisture can contribute to concrete deterioration.
Photo (bottom left): NDE team members Ken Lee, Dr. Seung-Kyoung Lee, and Brian Pailes take measurements of an area at the base of the structure to be tested. ICMP program director Nenad Gucunski (not pictured) praised the team for an outstanding job in extreme conditions.
Photos ©2013 Nenad Gucunski/Rutgers CAIT. All rights reserved.