UB and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collaborate to enhance building codes, structures and materials

Ranade (right) observes a concrete speciment with one of his former PhD students.

By Peter Murphy

Published October 28, 2019

A grant, worth over $500,000 awarded to assistant professor Ravi Ranade, will assist in developing superior materials and reviewing the building codes currently used to design protective structures for housing equipment and soldiers.

UHPC improves penetration resistance

“I think there needs to be that connection between academia and the Army Corps. That's why we are doing it. That's why they came to us. ”
Ravi Ranade, Assistant Professor
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Ranade and his students will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to recommend changes to the existing building codes for effective utilization of ultra-high-performance concretes (UHPC), the strongest class of concrete materials. According to Ranade, the USACE has been using the same building code for decades, and the current code does not provide any guidance for building with UHPC and other modern concrete materials.

“There has been significant research on the material development of UHPC and its utilization for improving the penetration resistance of protective structures over the last four decades. However, the current code provides no guidance for using this class of materials,” Ranade says, “we are trying to get this material into the code, and work with them [USACE] on how to model the material behavior and structural response.”

The goal of the code revision is to improve the penetration resistance against impact in protective structures.

According to Ranade, other militaries around the world have already incorporated some aspects of the new material into their codes. The American codes have not accounted for UHPC yet, even though the United States has done the majority of research on the material.

“I think there needs to be that connection between academia and the Army Corps,” Ranade says, “that’s why we are doing it. That’s why they came to us.”

Ranade and PhD students Dhanendra Kumar and Amr Soliman are part of a larger team of academics working with the USACE researchers on this problem. They will create the UHPC mixtures and develop different recipes to address USACE’s needs. The UB team will present material models and actually test the experimental models for ACE.

“The new material models that we propose will be based on experimental research. You perform experiments and see whether or not the computational model checks out,” Ranade says, “We verify the models by running experiments. This research could lead to some hidden scientific mechanisms related to the material behavior.”

Ranade has worked with the USACE on various projects for over six years.