ME 4233/6233 Fundamentals of FEA

Computational Mechanics Implementation of Performance Based Testing in Massive Concrete Structures



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Most of the nation’s critical water resource infrastructures are near or have exceeded their design lives. Consequently, there is a huge need for the development of assessment procedures that will change the way dams are maintained and operated with the intent of extending the service life. This is crucial for ensuring the safety and security of our nation’s public services. The combination of advanced computational mechanics and performance based testing (PBT) methods can be used to investigate the existing conditions of large concrete structures.

Performance based testing (PBT) is a new and innovative non-destructive testing technique that we are implementing to better asses critical infrastructure by the use of a Cold Gas Thruster (CGT). The CGT is an instrument that delivers a high magnitude, short duration load that produces an impulse response in the structure. PBT allows for the evaluation of critical infrastructure acquiring specific dynamic responses within the structure. The dynamic responses gathered can be used to identify specific fundamental behavior characteristics, which can then be used to monitor changes within the structure throughout the lifespan of the structures existence.

Advanced computational mechanics will allow us to achieve a model calibration with the experimental data that in turn will provide us with the ability to change force and displacement boundary conditions to study different realistic scenarios typically encountered in massive concrete structures.

The fundamental behavior characteristics are identified by using Shock Response Spectrum (SRS) analyses to determine the natural period of vibration of the structure. The condition of the structure can be assessed by evaluating the spectral patterns associated with each test. The natural period of vibration can be used to identify the structural stiffness and can then be compared to other PBT baseline data to determine if a change in the characteristics of the structure has occurred. The structures fundamental characteristics can be monitored and assessed by frequently testing these structures, allowing for significant changes that may put the structure at risk to be detected early.


structure, dynamics, finite element analysis, cold gas thruster, impulse load


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Computational Mechanics Implementation of Performance Based Testing in Massive Concrete Structures