On RFD-TV: Christine Wittich
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Christine Wittich talks live on RFD-TV about her research into structural integrity of grain bins during powerful straight-line winds. The interview aired May 25, 2021. More on the story from Nebraska Today: https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/husker-researcher-studies-derecho-impact-with-eye-toward-improving-silo/
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[00:00:00.530]Well, it's been almost a year
[00:00:01.800]since the derecho swept across the Midwest, last summer.
[00:00:04.940]As recovery continues, a husker researcher is working
[00:00:08.060]to improve grain bin structures
[00:00:10.370]to better withstand severe weather in the future.
[00:00:13.610]Well, Christine Wittich,
[00:00:14.490]with the University of Nebraska Lincoln
[00:00:16.240]joins us now for an update on that effort.
[00:00:18.790]And, Christine, thanks for your effort here,
[00:00:20.440]joining us this morning.
[00:00:21.800]So why did you decide to look
[00:00:23.470]into the damage that was sustained specifically
[00:00:25.890]by grain bins last year?
[00:00:29.623]Thanks so much for that question, Janet.
[00:00:31.670]So, in short, it's to do my part,
[00:00:33.670]to help make our communities
[00:00:35.210]much more resilient to extreme weather
[00:00:38.060]For all of my career, as a structural engineer,
[00:00:40.360]I've largely been focused
[00:00:41.710]on how we can take our individual structures,
[00:00:44.150]our infrastructure systems, and now our communities,
[00:00:47.130]and make them more resilient to natural hazards.
[00:00:50.730]And when we look at communities in general,
[00:00:51.567]recent studies have shown that rural communities tend
[00:00:56.310]to be a lot less disaster resilient,
[00:00:59.640]compared to their more urban counterparts.
[00:01:01.990]And a large part of that is due
[00:01:03.880]to the reliance on the agricultural industry
[00:01:07.150]and the very unique structures that support it,
[00:01:10.450]notably, or one of which, is the steel grain bin
[00:01:14.220]and the designing construction
[00:01:15.630]of these bins varies quite substantially.
[00:01:18.220]And so a lot of data is needed
[00:01:20.680]for us to have a good understanding
[00:01:22.590]about how they're going to perform in future events.
[00:01:25.570]And unfortunately, this event,
[00:01:27.680]this past summer's derecho,
[00:01:29.680]presented the opportunity for us to do that.
[00:01:32.578]And so a team of us, from UNL,
[00:01:35.430]went out to a survey about seven regions,
[00:01:38.500]a total of 500, over 500, individual bins
[00:01:42.480]to provide us with that data,
[00:01:44.390]to understand how these structures fail
[00:01:46.230]in light of all the potential variations.
[00:01:48.940]So describe the vulnerability,
[00:01:50.540]specifically of grain bins,
[00:01:52.290]in this severe weather condition.
[00:01:55.048]Absolutely. So grain bins that you're likely familiar with
[00:01:58.580]are cylindrical, thin walled, steel structures,
[00:02:01.830]anchored to a concrete pad.
[00:02:04.390]When these are empty,
[00:02:05.223]they're particularly vulnerable to high winds.
[00:02:07.700]The thin cylindrical walls can buckle
[00:02:09.920]under the wind's pressure.
[00:02:11.440]The Anchorage can also fail,
[00:02:13.490]which can be particularly dangerous,
[00:02:15.440]as the structure can now impact everything that's around it.
[00:02:18.686]Green bins can also fail
[00:02:20.940]when they're full, or partially full.
[00:02:23.340]And one of the ways that we saw this
[00:02:25.050]in the field, several times, was failure
[00:02:27.700]of tear off, of the entire, or part, of the roof,
[00:02:31.440]exposing all of the material that's being stored
[00:02:35.030]and leading to potential contamination.
[00:02:38.733]what are the next steps in this research effort?
[00:02:41.640]And are we maybe going to have a new style grain bin
[00:02:43.790]on the market, anytime soon?
[00:02:46.780]Absolutely. Thanks for that question.
[00:02:48.890]So what we're currently doing is trying
[00:02:50.720]to build probabilistic models.
[00:02:52.530]So, based on all this real world data,
[00:02:55.240]can we say the probability
[00:02:57.050]that a given grain bin, in its location,
[00:03:00.060]you know, with its design and construction,
[00:03:02.210]what's the probability that that's going to fail,
[00:03:04.190]given certain wind speeds?
[00:03:05.680]And this type of predictive model is really important,
[00:03:08.760]due to all the variations,
[00:03:10.440]so that we can help make those best recommendations
[00:03:13.360]for how to build this structure better.
[00:03:15.820]And in addition to looking just
[00:03:17.550]at the individual structure, which is our focus right now
[00:03:20.840]thinking a lot bigger picture, we're collaborating,
[00:03:24.360]you know, interdisciplinarily,
[00:03:26.100]with sociologists, with economists,
[00:03:28.390]with community members, to help understand
[00:03:30.920]what are the best disaster mitigative solutions
[00:03:34.620]that we can recommend
[00:03:36.070]to enable an entire agricultural community
[00:03:39.050]to withstand future hazards.
[00:03:41.850]All right, well, Christine, thanks
[00:03:43.030]for sharing your insight with us today.
[00:03:45.000]Assistant professor of engineering
[00:03:46.600]with the university of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:03:48.510]Christine Wittich joining us, again, today.
[00:03:50.760]You can learn more. Go online to wittich.unl.edu.
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