CIGMAT Report 2013

By C. Vipulanadan, PhD, P.E., professor and director of Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) and Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston | October 2013, Vol. 68 No. 10
Figure 1. Piezo-resistive behavior of modified oil well cement

The main focus of the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) research is on infrastructure maintenances and developing new smart materials for construction, maintenance and repair applications.

The CIGMAT Research Center is currently working on projects related to developing and characterizing smart cement and smart drilling mud for oil well construction and cementing applications; ultra deep water pipe-soil interaction; joint leak testing of polypropylene storm water pipes; and nanotechnology.

In recent years, CIGMAT researchers have developed unique testing facilities including high pressure and high temperature (HPHT) testing of materials and pipelines for oil and gas infrastructure applications and developed test protocols approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test grouts, coatings and pipe joints for infrastructure rehabilitation. A Life Cycle Cost model (CIGMAT-LCC) for wastewater systems have been developed and posted on the CIGMAT website for public use.

In the past two decades, over 60 commercial products including coatings, grouts, liners, cementitious concretes, polymer composites and pipes have been researched and tested for number of applications. The observed trends are analytically and numerically modeled to better understand the influence of various testing and environmental parameters. Every effort is being made by CIGMAT researchers to transfer technology from control studies to actual applications. The industrial members and federal/state/local agencies fund the ongoing research studies at CIGMAT. The director of CIGMAT is Dr. C. Vipulanandan (Vipu), P.E., professor of civil engineering at the University of Houston, Houston, TX.

A year ago, CIGMAT received a research grant of $2.6 million, a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the non-profit Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, (RPSEA), to conduct research on developing smart cement and drilling mud for real-time monitoring of oil well installation and performance during the entire service life. Oil Field services firm Baker Hughes is providing additional funding of $500,000 as a cost share. Ongoing researches at CIGMAT are being funded by federal, state and local agencies and industries.