Infrastructure, Energy Top CIGMAT 2014 Agenda

May 2014, Vol. 69 No. 5
Professor C. Vipulanandan, PhD, (left) with President David Daniel, University of Texas at Dallas, TX

A one-day conference and exhibit was organized by the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston, on “Infrastructure, Energy, Geotechnical, Flooding and Sustainable Issues Related to Houston & Other Major Cities” at the University of Houston on March 7.

More than 300 people participated in the 19th annual conference represented by owners, consulting engineers, material supplies, contractors and academia.

The convention opened with welcoming remarks by Dr. Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, P.E., professor and director of CIGMAT and the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT).

The general session focused on highway transportation and public works infrastructure issues and the energy needs and potential method of production for the future. Several ongoing and new highway projects valued over several billion dollars with maintenance issues for the department of transportation were discussed as well as methods to minimize the highway accident deaths. Plans for maintaining and expanding Houston’s water, wastewater and other infrastructure facilities in a sustainable manner were discussed.

With global population growth necessitating more demand for oil and gas, attendees also hear about how new technologies and environmental regulations are affecting the use of hydraulic fracturing method in various rock formations to obtain oil and gas from deep geological formations. Keynote speakers included Michael Alford, district engineer for Houston, TxDOT; Daniel W. Krueger, director of Public Works for the city of Houston; and Kris Nygaard, senior stimulation consultant, ExxonMobil, Houston, TX.

Technical sessions

Speakers from around the country took part in four technical sessions. During the first panel discussion, “Water Issues and Hydraulic Fracturing,” Erika Mancha, engineer, Texas Water Development Board, discussed the methods that are being investigated for desalinization of sea water as recent drought conditions in Texas have resulted in TWDB looking at alternative methods of obtaining drinking water. Jun Chang, deputy director, city of Houston, discussed the successes and continued challenges in the regional and state surface water plans. The need for integrated network of pipelines to meet the requirements also was discussed. Dr. Vipulanandan discussed the current use of over 75 billion gallons of water annually in hydraulic fracturing in the United States and potential methods to treat them using conventional methods including electro coagulations and filtering.