December 2017 Vol. 72 No. 12


CIGMAT Strives To Transfer Research To Actual Applications

Research studies performed at the University of Houston’s Center for Innovative Growing Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) are focused on maintaining energy, water and wastewater infrastructure and pipelines; developing new, smart materials for construction, maintenance and repairs; and detecting and quantifying corrosion and environmental issues. The Director of CIGMAT is Dr. C. Vipulanandan (Vipu), Ph.D. P.E., professor of Civil Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX. Ongoing research at CIGMAT is funded by federal, state and local agencies and industries.

Over the past two decades, over five dozen commercial products – including rapid repair materials, coatings, grouts, liners, cementitious and polymer composites and pipes – have been researched and tested for a number of applications. Microbial fuel cell technology is being further developed to treat and recycle highly salty fracturing fluids. Also, the observed trends are analytically and numerically modeled to better understand the influence of various testing and environmental parameters.

CIGMAT’s commitment to transfer technology from control studies to actual applications, led to development of unique testing facilities in recent years, such as high-pressure and high-temperature (HPHT) testing of materials for oil and gas infrastructure applications, and EPA-approved protocols to test grouts and coatings for infrastructure rehabilitations. As another example, the Life Cycle Cost model (CIGMAT-LCC) for wastewater systems, available on the CIGMAT website, is being used by cities, counties and the public.

Current projects involve basic research, as well as applied field research related to both onshore and offshore applications. Examples include:
Developing “smart” materials including cement (being patterned in over 135 countries), drilling fluids, spacer fluids and grouts for various applications.

  • Evaluating long-term performance of micro-silica based cement liners.
  • Characterizing polypropylene composite coatings for deepwater oil pipelines.
  • Developing methods to treat contaminated soils and expansive clays.
  • New non- destructive technology for detecting and quantifying corrosion (being patterned in over 135 countries), and multifunctional microbial fuel cells.

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