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Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • Bret N Lingwall
  • (605) 394-1683
Award Date:12/02/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 242,123
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 242,123
  • FY 2020=$242,123
Start Date:12/01/2019
End Date:11/30/2021
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.083
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:RII Track 4: Form Finding and Optimization of the Structural Foundations of Mega-Flora
Federal Award ID Number:1929143
DUNS ID:929928018
Parent DUNS ID:929538999
Program:EPSCoR Research Infrastructure
Program Officer:
  • J.D. Swanson
  • (703) 292-2898

Awardee Location

Street:501 East Saint Joseph Street
City:Rapid City
County:Rapid City
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Princeton University
Street:Princeton University
Cong. District:12

Abstract at Time of Award

Foundation design has stagnated, stuck in technologies developed decades ago. Shallow and deep foundations are energy intensive and disruptive to install, inefficient in their form and shape. Infrastructure modernization critically depends on design and fabrication of systems with robust functionality at a minimum of energy and materials investments. The solution to this lethargy lays in the foundations of Mega-Flora, large trees. These natural foundation systems have been optimized for a minimum of materials while providing resistance to enormous loads. However, there is little understanding to the role large roots play in structural stability. A new generation of foundation systems can be inspired by nature, but the first step to is to study the form and shape of natural foundations. The work of this award includes mapping the form, shape and mechanics of the roots of large trees. This understanding will lead to new design paradigms. A fundamental understanding of the principles underlying the foundations of mega-flora will significantly improve our ability to design foundations that require less resources, better resist hazards, and improve life safety. Society benefits via resilient infrastructure constructed at less cost. Better knowledge of tree roots will aid foresters in conservation of America's priceless Sequoia, Redwood, and Aspen treasures. Understanding the unique shape and form of the foundation systems of mega-flora that nature seeks is important for biomimetic engineering of new structural foundations. A new generation of anthropogenic foundation systems can be inspired by these natural systems, but the first step to revitalizing of foundation engineering is to study the topology and morphology of natural foundations. We hypothesize that shape analysis and form-finding optimization techniques can be used identify the predominant forms and shapes of the root topologies that nature seeks to optimize structural stability. These optimized shapes and forms can then be used to inspire a new generation of biomimetic foundations. A global database of 1st order roots is coupled with in-situ mapping roots as inputs to Shape Analysis. Form Finding is then used to identify optimal form and shape. This project greatly advances knowledge and understanding across different fields with synergy between engineering and ecology via a fellowship at Princeton University's Form-Finding Laboratory. The research effort will result in: (1) physical model data; (2) application of geophysics to new problems, (3) new applications of shape analysis, and (4) the first use of form-finding techniques for buried systems. The behavior of foundations inspired by these shapes and mechanics will lead to new design methods. To perform the research, new methods for geotechnical analyses will be derived in the form-finding paradigm. Validation of novel in-situ imaging of buried roots is transferable to other problems of ecology and geology, as is adaptation of shape analysis for 1st order root structure optimization. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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