MTC research briefs

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September 17, 2015

The Midwest Transportation Center (MTC) sponsors a competitive research program to fund projects focused on State of Good Repair in infrastructure with attention to safety and Data Driven Performance Measures for Enhanced Infrastructure Condition.

The following are some projects led by Iowa State University, as the lead university. Stay up to date on research conducted by the MTC at

Iowa State University

Proof of Concept: Biocement for Road Repair

Project PI: Jian Chu             Project Co-PI: Zhiyou Wen

Road repair is an expensive operation every year. This cost can be greatly reduced if waste materials from the mining and biofuel industries can be used to substitute conventional materials for road repair or construction. The objective of this project is to develop methods to produce a new construction material, biocement, using waste products and apply the new material for road repair and construction.

Two types of waste were used in this study. One is limestone fines produced from a limestone mine in Iowa. Another is organic acids, a byproduct produced from a pyrolysis-based biofuel manufacturing process. The limestone fines and organic acids can be used to produce biocement under ambient temperature in an inexpensive way. The cost-effective biocement can be used as a substitute for expensive cement for road repairs and construction. Biocement grout, or biogrout, can be injected directly into cavities or cracks in pavement for road repair. As the viscosity of biogrout is low, biogrout can penetrate better into the road pavement than cement grout. Biocement-mixed aggregate can be used for road base or subbase construction. Biocement solutions can also be applied directly on shoulders as a stabilizer or on unpaved roads as a dust control agent.

The focus of this project is on the development of cost-effective biocement products and their effectiveness for road repair. Once the methods for biocement production and applications are established in laboratory scale, field experiments can be carried out as a follow-up study.

Proof of Concept: Examining Characteristics of Roadway Infrastructure in Various 3D Visualization Modes 

Project PI: Nir Keren                        

Utilizing enhanced visualization in transportation planning and design gained popularity in the last decade. This work aimed at demonstrating the concept of utilizing a highly immersive, virtual reality simulation engine for creating dynamic, interactive, full-scale, three-dimensional (3D) models of highway infrastructure.

For this project, the highway infrastructure element chosen was a two-way, stop-controlled intersection (TWSCI).

VirtuTrace, a virtual reality simulation engine developed by the principal investigator, was used to construct the dynamic 3D model of the TWSCI. The model was implemented in C6, which is Iowa State University’s Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE).

Representatives from the Institute of Transportation at Iowa State University, as well as representatives from the Iowa Department of Transportation, experienced the simulated TWSCI. The two teams identified verbally the significant potential that the approach introduces for the application of next-generation simulated environments to road design and safety evaluation.

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