independent project research

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Here are some suggestions for independent project research but the best project is the one you choose from your experience or that your company would like you to investigate.
Examine the viability of the critical depth meter as a means of measuring flow in open channels
Compare the accuracy of the critical depth meter with flow for three different flows and then compare with other weirs, the crump and the sluice gate and compare your findings with published information on this.
A gravimetric method of measuring the flow in hydraulic benches. It is well known that measuring mass is much more accurate than measuring volume. Explore the possibility to measure the flow in the 2.5 metre channel and the hydraulic benches using weight rather than volume and linking it to a timer.
Silica Fume content v compressive strength of concrete. This requires carful measurement and preparation of the concrete samples. Silica fume is very expensive so we can only look at silica fume contents of 5% 10% 15% An alternative and less expensive method for this would be to use mini cubes based on 1.2litre sealable food stores and using the new PASCO tester to measure the crush strength of the mortar, no aggregate just sand and cement
Two different projects : (i)Test slump of concrete with different moisture additions and plasticisers and (ii)compare the slump values obtained from a conventional slump tester with a penetration tester.
In both cases, examine effect of the changes in moisture content of the concrete on final strength. The alternative slump tester which uses a steel shape similar to a nail dropped from a standard height and the penetration into the wet concrete is measured and compared to the same concrete with a standard slump test. This will need some design work and we need to be able to compare this to a standard slump test.
Compare performance of broad crested and crump weirs with different surface roughness obtained using different grades of emery paper.
Alternatives to steel in reinforced concrete, there are many possibilities, bamboo being one. Any reinforcement needs to have a high value of Young’s Modulus but also allow good adhesion between the reinforcement and the cement binder. Part of this exercise would be to measure the modulus and the adhesion forces.
How well does mortar stick to…. This would include different surfaces, different smoothness of surface, different mortar compositions and effect of different setting times examine materials like “Polyfilla” as an addition to cement. To achieve this use mortar between two pieces of whatever material you want to test, brick being the most obvious. To test the strength we would need a small sample of material about 50mm cubes. Would drill a hole through the samples of brick and use string to pull the two apart. This requires student to design equipment to achieve this. (This is an experiment for the new
Performance of different breathable paints, the effect of adding layers rather than stripping back and repainting. This would need planed wood the application of standard wood system paint and then putting the wood samples after allowing the paint to dry into a desiccator for several weeks and weighing the wood to see how much drying has occurred. Wood samples would be prepared with 1,2,3,and 4 applications of the wood system paint top layer to simulate repainting without stripping down the wood between re-paintings.
Examination of “Dilitancy” as a means of estimating clay/silt content of soil. Need to make up a set of soils with various clay and sand contents and compare with actual sample from sites. The idea here is to “calibrate” the dilatancy test. Here dilitancy is that described in chapter 1 of Smith’s Elements of Soil Mechanics. The sand we use is builders sand and we will need to get good samples of clay, cut them into small slices and dry them in the microwave then crush into powder in the pestle and mortar
Calibrate a resistance based moisture meter and a multimeter for various materials e.g. wood, sand, brick etc. Making is not difficult as you can use anyone of the multimeters in the lab as they all have direct measures of resistance. The main point is to test with sand to begin with and then check how accurate the same resistance measurement is with material like wood or concrete.
Creating small cubes of mortar and measuring the crush strength on the new PASCO tester. The idea behind this is to see how temperature affects the strength development so that it may be possible to create a faster concrete cube test. Mix mortar into 10 1.2 litre sealable food boxes and place in an oven set at 60 degrees. Leave for 24 hours, remove the cube, allow to cool and measure the crush strength for all to samples noting both the mean and standard deviation of the crush strength. Repeat for other temperatures above 20 degrees up to 70 degrees and prepare a table showing the strength. Also, using the same materials make another set of cubes which will be set at room temperature for 28 days Finally repeat on a further set which will be removed from the mould and left under water for a total of 28 days.
similar to 12 but this time the mortar will be moulded in a special mould made of wood so that the resultant beam will be 150mm long by 20mm wide by 10mm deep. These will be put into airtight boxes and heated as in 32 but this time a measurement of the bend stiffness will be made and comparisons made between those heated above 20 degrees and those set at 20 and perhaps a set of samples which is left under water to set.
An investigation into the use of the penetration test normally used for liquid limit to test the plastic limit. This can be done by plotting the moisture content against penetration for a range of clay soils and compare the penetration to the plastic limit measured by the conventional method.
Air permeability as a measure of specific area of soil particles. This equipment is based on other equipment such as the WIRA Fibre Fineness Metre which is used in the textile industry to estimate the “fineness” of fibres, it is used for many natural fibres where the question of “fineness” really informs how fine a thread can be produced from the fibre. With soils this would have a different application as a method of measuring the D50.
The method is to compact a known weight of dry soil into a container which is fitted with a perforated end covered by fine filter paper. The container (usually containing up to 10g of soil) is then attached to a vacuum pump via a rotameter flow meter and a water manometer. The pressure difference between the air coming through the container and the atmosphere is adjusted to a given level ( 100mm is usual ) and the flow noted. The finer the soil, the lower the flow.
We need to know the resistance of the empty system so a measure of the flow through the empty container with the filter paper in place is first obtained and then the soil is added and carefully compacted until it just fits in and the measurement is taken again. To ensure that each sample is tested in the same way we need to adjust the input pressure and thus measure that with a manometer
As above but compare the results from the soil fineness experiment with the sieve results.

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