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Ice Mechanics Research Laboratory

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The goal is to identify and research the effects of the cold region environment and to advance scientific knowledge and practice in the engineering solution of cold regions problems. The associated faculty, by this mandate, engages in original research in cold regions engineering, relevant to any part of the broad field of civil engineering. Specific research programs include scale effects on the fracture of Arctic and Antarctic ice, river and sea ice processes and modeling, and oil spills in frozen waters. Many collaborative research projects with international partners are ongoing, including ARCTECLAB, HSVA, CEATI, and USACRREL.

The cold regions geo-environmental research facilities are multipurpose. For cold regions research, five cold rooms capable of temperatures down to -40°C are available: three are located in the Ice Mechanics Research Laboratory and two are located in the Hydraulic Laboratory. The flume and wave basin in the Hydraulic Laboratory are available for studying non-thermal related ice processes in surface waters. Such an arrangement fosters the exchange of practical experience and expert knowledge and helps define the state of practice of cold regions geo-environmental engineering. The cold rooms are well equipped with specialized research equipment, including a microtome, band saws, a lathe, milling machine, Rigsby stage for conducting the orientation work, a digital camera, microscopes and several film cameras.

An Instron 8500 digital closed-loop testing system capable of operation to -40°C, 55 kip capacity is completely housed within a test cold room. A closed-loop cold chamber capable of operation to -150°C can be mounted on the Instron 8500 test frame. The test cold room is thus set up for physical properties, constitutive and thermo-mechanical cold regions investigations. A range of field-testing equipment exists: a Flatjack Calibration Device and a Precision Ice Saw for cutting out slabs and edge-cracks in in-situ fracture test specimens. The Precision Ice Saw has been designed to cut ice up to eight feet thick. One six-foot, one seven-foot, and two five-foot bars were purchased for the last two Antarctic field trips and are still in good condition. Numerous spare parts are also available, including a spare engine. Additional field equipment includes the following portable items: bandsaw, router, jointer and milling machine. There are also three MTS 458 analog controllers - these serve to provide closed-loop test control up to 5 kHz.