Sunday, February 27, 2011

TTU Names Research Award Winner

Ben Mohr, Tennessee Tech University professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the recipient of the 2011 Kinslow Award for his extensive research in concrete durability. Concrete is the most widely used engineering material in the world with about 10 percent of all residential siding in the United States made from portland cement-based materials. According to Mohr, concrete is the most consumed material other than water in the world. He has been working on durability issues, namely cracking, that may have an effect on the world-wide use of some building materials. The Kinslow Award is given annually for the best research paper written by a TTU engineering faculty member and published in a refereed professional journal. Mohr's award-winning paper, published in Cement and Concrete Research, was entitled "Influence of Bleed Water Reabsorption on Cement Paste Autogenous Deformation."

"The paper presents a single experimental lab technique that is vital to producing results that replicate real-world conditions," explained Mohr. "It is anticipated that this research will be applicable to all researchers in the extensive area of concrete shrinkage testing, specifically for the shrinkage evaluation of high performance concrete."

With the advent of high performance concrete containing low water-to-cement ratios and typically silica fume, early age shrinkage cracking of concrete has occurred with greater frequency. Early age cracking (primarily due to autogenous shrinkage) significantly compromises the durability of concrete. Autogenous shrinkage occurs once final set has taken place when the paste becomes rigid but the cement continues to hydrate, which causes the internal relative humidity to decrease and the porosity to increase. As various materials are being considering for autogenous shrinkage mitigation, it is vital to accurately evaluate these materials prior to field use.

Mohr's research interests are primarily focused on the broad area of concrete durability, with an emphasis on nano/microstructure, cement chemistry, early-age behavior, and novel material characterization/analytical techniques. Mohr is an active member of the American Concrete Institute and secretary of the American Ceramic Society-Cements Division. He has also served as faculty adviser for TTU's American Society of Civil Engineers for the past five years. In 2007, Mohr was honored with the Oak Ridge Associate Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, TTU Sigma Xi Research Award, and the American Society of Engineering Education Southeastern Section New Faculty Research Award. Mohr has received more than $520,000 as a sole principal investigator with the National Science Foundation. In addition, he has been a co-principal investigator on projects totaling more than $450,000 for the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.Mohr earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware and his master's degree and doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He joined the TTU faculty in August 2005.