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Civil engineering research works to protect military assets in the field

College of Engineering students and faculty, along with Enbiorganic Technologies, were awarded $100,000 for phase two of their research to create protective barriers using local soil that can withstand small arms fire and shrapnel to protect aircraft and other Air Force assets deployed in the field.

The research was part of the Agile Revetment Challenge, which explores advanced material technology to increase the resilience of protective field structures. These structures are made from materials indigenous to the construction area with the ability to harden or expand on-site.

Bhaskar Chittoori, Chair and Associate Professor for Civil Engineering, serves as the lead principal investigator along with Malcom Burbank from Enbiorganic Technologies. The research group, which includes students from civil engineering, proposed the use of microbial induced calcite precipitation in combination with local soil from field build sites. This process uses bacteria, whether already present or introduced to local soil, to produce calcite in the soil. These calcite particles fill pore space in the soil, reducing permeability and increasing the strength of the protective barriers.

“This is a very interesting application technique my research group has been investigating for the past few years,” Chittoori said. “Building revetment structures using local soil facilitated by the indigenous bacteria is a low cost, environment-friendly approach that we discovered in phase one of our research.”

The research and use of this new accelerated microbial induced calcite precipitation could also extend beyond the potential application of protecting Air Force assets.

“This research has the ability for a wide range of applications beyond military use, especially for domestic applications including embankments, pavements and foundation repair,” Chittoori said.