Friday, 26 July 2019

My secondment at EIFFAGE


Hello everyone,

As I have mentioned in my last post, currently I am living in Paris!

I have moved here for three months to join EIFFAGE for my secondment within INFRASTAR project.

In here, I am working on new high speed railway connection in England - HS2.
My task is to optimize structures originally designed with concrete and steel by use of UHPFRC. In this way, we can save money, time, raw materials... and build the railway line from 21st century.

This is a great opportunity to see how the UHPFRC market looks like in reality and face problems that might be encountered while applying this novel material.

And, of course, to spend some time around the beautiful Eiffel tower ;)

Wish me luck!

Friday, 19 July 2019

The busiest period of doctorate(?)

Hello everyone,
As you can see, I didn't update this blog for some time... due to lack of time.

I am currently in mid-way of my PhD, 2.5 years past and 1.5 years left (among which 6 months will be still within the INFRASTAR project). This means that a) my experimental campaign is running at full speed, and b) I am starting to have first valuable results from both laboratory tests of R-UHPFRC and field monitoring of bridges.

Thus, I should be in multiple places at the time... To show you briefly how it looks like in practice, here is a brief overview of my agenda:

-6 weeks ago today, I have been in USA, where I was presenting first results of my experimental campaign on the conference UHPC 2019
-5 weeks ago, I have been working on the preparation of the journal paper about monitoring of Chillon viaduct
-4 weeks ago, I've been in the lab, preparing the static test of one of my beams (with use of fibre optics and DIC)
-3 weeks ago the INFRASTAR implementation day took place, thus I was visiting Copenhagen
-2 weeks ago, I've been preparing another static test in the lab
-a week ago, I've been working in the lab on the fatigue test
-and right now, I am on the train from Paris (where I have just started my secondment at EIFFAGE, more news soon) to Lausanne, to take care of my fatigue test and some personal stuff...

And, this shall continue more-less until the end of this year.

The good thing is that everything is rolling, so next year I hope to be more free in terms of affairs and able to work exclusively on the results of the fatigue tests.

That's it for now, stay tuned!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Fatigue exists. It really does.


Hello everyone, long time no read.

I’d like to share with you a story on my fatigue tests. As you know, fatigue of R-UHPFC beams is the main topic of my research (if you don’t remember what this abbreviation stands for, check my previous posts!)

Do you remember that I was doing some tests in cooperation with Antoine? The first beam instrumented with his Fibre Optics we've tested back in December under quasi-static loading. This was done mostly to calibrate the future fatigue load levels.

Then, the fatigue test followed. We have started it just before Christmas (in fact, we started to run it a day before Antoine left for his holidays, and two days before I have left for mine). The plan was to run it for some three to four weeks continuously. Thanks to internet, we were controlling everything in the lab in Lausanne, while he was in Lebanon and me in Poland. That’s the real globalisation!

But, on December 27th, the localized crack under the force application point has passed through one of the fibres in the upper flange. We've become ‘blind’ from this section on. Thus, we have had to temporarily stop the test. In mid-January, when both of us were back in Lausanne, we have re-connected and re-calibrated the fibre. The test continued.

In the beginning of February, strange thing happened. The jack could not produce anymore the force we wanted. Thus, we had to remove it without touching the sensors, not to de-calibrate them. That was like a surgery on an open heart, but our technicians are experts.

The jack was sent to the company for check-up. The reason of failure was… fatigue of one of the elements inside of the piston! After reparation, which took some 3 weeks, and re-installation on the testing rig (another week of work), in the beginning of March we have picked up the test. But, after just 2 days, the jack failed again! Unfortunately, during reparation, they have made a small mistake in the assembly. This meant another month of delay for me…

Finally, in the first days of April, the jack was installed again and the test continued. After another 2 weeks, on the 15th of April, circa 8AM, the beam failed! And so, after almost 4 months and 6.5 million of cycles, we have finished the test. It took some 3 months longer than planned!
I am writing this to show that the research is not only a success story. There are many things that can go wrong. Some of them depend on us; on some we don’t have any influence. Of course, it’s us who decide how to deal with the problems… and how to manage the time not to waste it! And, trust me, during these 4 months I’ve had plenty of other topics to work on ;).
Back in 2017, when I was starting my research, one of the experts has told me: ‘the fatigue experiments are very… fatiguing’. Believe me, he was right.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Co-operation in cooperation

Hello everyone!

As you know, thanks to INFRASTAR we can travel to the partner institutions and work there with fellow Early Stage Researchers. Now at EPFL we have a visitor from France - Antoine. He's working on crack opening measurements using distributed fibre optics strain gauges. He got some nice results with ordinary concrete, thus we have decided to put them into my beams.

We've started the preparation of common experiment in September, when he came to Lausanne to glue some of his fibres on rebars, and to cast the beams with me. I must admit, that we have prepared a massive amount of sensors for some of the beams ;)


Then, when he came to EPFL for his secondment, we've glued some more fibres onto the surface of the beams.



Some of the beams prepared in this way will be tested in static, while the others in fatigue.

Thanks to that, he'll check if his method works with UHPFRC, and I'll get more interesting data on my specimens.

So, it's a WIN-WIN situation - that's how the cooperation should look like!


Sunday, 2 December 2018

Fatigue does exist!

Hello everyone,
today just a short post as lately I am very busy in the lab.

The first proper fatigue test is running. I am still amazed with the capabilities of our machines - in the current test I load and unload my beam 5 times per second with equivalent of 16 tonnes! Still, almost 3 weeks is needed to get 10 millions of cycles. You can see the beam during the test below.



In the meantime I have proven that the fatigue does exist (do you remember this?). Here is one of the bolts from my testing rig.



After strengthening of the connection the test continued.

That's it for now, I will keep you up to date!



Sunday, 11 November 2018

Experimental campaign... finally!

Hello everyone!

Long time no hear, as I am stuck in the lab. After casting, it is time to break some beams!

So far, I have tested three beams statically. I did it to get their resistance, which will help in calibration of my fatigue tests. One of the tested R-UHPFRC beams below, with visible huge force-redistribution steel beam on top of it.



I've got one unexpected shear failure... Which opened a whole new research branch on influence of vibrations during casting on the fibre orientation in beam! The project is ongoing.


And, when I say I BREAK the beams, I really mean it. The one below is broken for sure ;)

Thanks to its fibres, the UHPFRC is very ductile. Here, you can see a time-lapse video of the post-peak load. This means, that the beam has already reached its maximum resistance and now can be considered as damaged, but there is still a lot of capability of deflection and load support. 
Just imagine, that you can see through the beam while there is still a load of around 25 tonnes on it! (so, weight of 15 cars...) 



Stay tuned to see more pictures from another tests! Coming when I'll only find some time to upload them...






Thursday, 9 August 2018

Casting campaign

Hello everyone!

In the last post I was informing you about preparation of the casting campaign.
Now, my own small factory is fully operational, including:


Mixing,


casting... with use of external vibrators!


curing for 7 days in formworks,



demoulding, labeling,


...and finally moving to the storage area.

In July I have reached efficiency of  3 beams per week, which is a good result.

Unfortunately, I am not that good in taking videos with my cell phone... or maybe this post was just optimised for your mobiles? ;)

Now, the beams are awaiting for my test setup to be ready. This should happen within a week or two.
So, stay tuned!

My secondment at EIFFAGE

Hello everyone, As I have mentioned in my last post, currently I am living in Paris! I have moved here for three months to join EIFFA...