CIMR In the News

Outlined below is the press we have received so far:

Four of the six members of the Mackinac Bridge Authority board and other Bridge Authority officials toured LTU’s Nabil Grace Center for Innovative Materials Research, informally known on campus as the Grace CIMR.

Among them was Kirk Steudle, former director of the Michigan Department of Transportation who is now a member of the Mackinac Bridge board. Steudle graduated from LTU in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. He also serves on the LTU Board of Trustees and last year was inducted into the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor.

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Lawrence Technological University in Southfield has renamed its materials research lab as the Nabil Grace Center for Innovative Materials Research in the southeast corner of LTU’s campus.

Named after the university’s engineering dean, a researcher dedicated to improving the lifespan of bridges and other crucial structures, the building has become a world-leading infrastructure laboratory under his watch.

This center was developed and overseen by Grace, who was instrumental in its construction and operation.

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Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II got a first-hand look at the latest advanced technologies in bridge construction Friday during a visit to the Nabil F. Grace Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) at Lawrence Technological University.

The visit focused on LTU’s research into using carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) strands in concrete highway bridges instead of steel bars—research conducted for more than 20 years by Nabil Grace, dean of the LTU College of Engineering, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, other state DOTs, and the federal government.

The research has shown that the CFRP material is stronger than steel and doesn’t rust. It’s more expensive than steel initially, but LTU and state officials say it can result in bridges that last 100 years with minimal maintenance, saving money in the long run. MDOT has built more than a dozen of the bridges across Michigan as test projects, and the research at LTU has resulted in national standards for using the material in bridge construction.

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First there were a couple of cracks and pops, as hydraulic presses bore down with titanic force on a 41-foot-long section of test bridge. Then, a few ominous bangs. Finally, the test bridge collapsed with a resounding kaboom, sending small shards of concrete around Lawrence Technological University’s Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR).

Nevertheless, Nabil Grace, dean of the LTU College of Engineering, said of the test: “This is good news.”

That’s because it had taken more than 180,000 pounds of pressure in a narrow section of the bridge to break it—and the bridge had bowed downward nearly two feet before collapsing. The test showed again that LTU is a global leader in developing bridges made with pretensioned carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) strands instead of steel bars for reinforcement—producing longer-lasting bridges that cost less to maintain.

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Compared to giant structures like the Mackinac Bridge, the bridge carrying I-75 over the Sexton and Kilfoil Drain in Allen Park wouldn’t seem to be all that impressive.

But appearances can be deceiving. It’s what’s inside the bridge–or more precisely, what’s inside its reinforced prestressed bulb-T sections—that really counts.

Because what’s inside them isn’t the usual steel reinforcing bars. Instead, there are innovative strands made of continuous carbon fiber, which is far lighter than steel and far more durable, because it doesn’t corrode.

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Discussions about our failing infrastructure seem to dominate the nightly news.

Nabil Grace, a structural engineer at Lawrence Technological Universiy, is one of the people working on solutions to this important issue.

Listen as Lynn Pasquerella interviews Nabil Grace for The Academic Minute.

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Lawrence Technological University has been awarded a three-year, $349,000 contract to evaluate alternative materials and a new approach to building highway bridges for the state transportation departments of Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, in addition to the Michigan Department of Transportation, which is the lead agency for the project.

The study will test non-corrosive cables and ultra-high-strength concrete in a bridge design that is both easier to maintain and faster to construct because it doesn't have a cast-in-place deck slab. The project is supported by the pooled fund of the Federal Highway Administration, and will utilize allocations from the five states.

Dean of Engineering Nabil Grace and his team of researchers are conducting the research in the Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) at Lawrence Tech.

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