HuRRI : Hurricane Resilience Research Institute

The impact of recent hurricanes in the southern United States demonstrates the vulnerability of coastal communities to the destructive forces of strong winds and high flooding. Structural vulnerability stems from non-suitable traditional construction materials and methods, e.g., the inherent decay and corrosion of steel reinforcement. The HuRRI-Compositesproject aims to develop resilient, non-corrosive, sustainable, and cost-effective Reinforced Concrete (RC) and Prestressed Concrete (PC) structures using Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP). The HuRRI-Compositesproject targets six areas of interest for the Hurricane Resilience Research Institute:

  1. Prediction of hurricane loading on coastal structures through testing and modelling;
  2. Mitigation of hurricane impacts on coastal communities through the development of resilient structural solutions for new construction, replacement and rehabilitation;
  3. Protection of coastal communities through the deployment of structural solutions in pilot projects, and the inclusion in Design Codes and Specifications;
  4. Recovery of coastal communities affected by disruptive events through prioritizing technology deployment in replacement projects, and ease of future recovery in resilient structures;
  5. Assessment of hurricane impacts through monitoring of the prototype structures, and calibration of prediction models and design provisions;
  6. Education of coastal communities on the importance of investing in resiliency, and education of practitioners on the importance of selecting resilient construction materials and systems. Partners include the University of Miami (UM), the University of Houston (UH), and the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT).

SUSTAIN Component: Prediction of Hurricane Loading

The experimental definition of hurricane loading up to category 5 on coastal structures will be accomplished through physical testing in SUSTAIN. One of the greatest challenges for designing structures in hurricane prone areas like South Florida is the determination of wind and wave loads and their interaction on structures. Although, existing building and structural guidelines have already identified methods for calculating wind and wave loads, identifying the combined actions of wind and waves is still challenging and may vary depending on the geometry of the structure and the intensity of the storm. Therefore, in this study, two scale models were built as part of a Hurricane Resilience Research Institute (HuRRI) project for experimental testing. The first model represents a typical residential marine dock while the second one is a typical beam bridge. The models were instrumented and have been under testing under varying wind and wave conditions at SUSTAIN.

The obtained data from SUSTAIN testing will be used to determine the pressures and, subsequently, the loads that would act on a real structure exposed to similar conditions. Due to the difference in size of the two structures, different geometrical scales were used to build the models with the dock having a scale of 1:10 with overall dimensions of 12”-H x 9.5”-W x 41”-L, while the bridge has scale of 1:20 with dimensions of 18.5”-H x 34.75”-W x 96”-L (Error: Reference source not found). The substructure elements were made of aluminum grades 6061 and 6063 that provide good weldability and corrosion resistance. The superstructure components were made using acrylic sheets forming a “box-like” shape in order to have the required space for the stainless steel tabulations and vinyl tubes to acquire dynamic pressure acting on the surface of the models.

The models have been subjected to a variety of wind and wave forces with the applied loads determined through data acquired from 36 pressure sensors mounted on the front and bottom face of the bridge and the dock decks. Pressure loads are measured and recorded using an MPS4000 miniature pressurescanner manufactured by Scanivalve. The experimental conditions include periodic waves with different wave frequencies and wave heights at two water levels corresponding to mean high and mean low water levels, as well as wind generation from tropical storms to near Category 5 hurricane winds. Error: Reference source not foundThe figure below shows the overall setup prior to the application of experimental wind-wave conditions. Collection of data has been completed


Bridge model experimental setup for evaluating the combined action of wind and waveson the deck pressure distribution.