Carleton Lab Research Spans Continents

Jun 30 2015 | By Jesse Adams | Photo: Carleton Labs

Columbia Engineering’s Robert A.W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory is conducting a comprehensive cable condition assessment for two Turkish suspension bridges linking Asia and Europe. A delegation of six officials and engineers from Turkey paid a visit to the lab May 12 to observe how the Carleton Lab is testing and analyzing wires harvested from load-bearing bridge cables to develop a high-confidence understanding of the bridges’ conditions.

“This project is the latest recognition of Carleton’s reputation and capabilities in structural and materials testing for bridges among other applications,” said Andrew Smyth, professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics and the lab’s director of research.

Both the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge span the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey’s economic and cultural center, and are key arteries for the city’s commerce and commuting across continents. A third bridge, the Yaviz Sultan Selim Bridge, is under construction, but at present the two aging bridges are crucial infrastructure under heavy demand.

“The Bosphorus bridges represent, in many ways, the epitome of critical international infrastructure, serving as a link between worlds, the East and the West, continents, cultures, and areas of commerce,” said Adrian Brügger, manager of the Carleton Lab and a preceptor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. “Like other major achievements in engineering and science, these bridges became indispensable the moment they were opened, and it is now our responsibility to shepherd these structures and ensure their efficient and safe operation for future generations.”

Among the techniques the Carleton Lab is utilizing to assess the bridges are tensile testing, visual inspection, fatigue testing, chemical analysis, scanning electron microscope fractography, and crack detection. Initial on-site inspection in Istanbul included opening load-bearing cables and wedging them to document wire condition before removing wire for subsequent analysis in Morningside Heights.

The Turkish delegation’s visit kicked off a six-month testing regimen of the Bosphorus Bridge samples.