Geotechnical Centrifuge Laboratory

The University of Colorado at Boulder centrifuge laboratory also includes a 15 g-ton centrifuge, which has a symmetrical arm comprised of aluminum sections carrying swing-baskets at each end.

The 15 g-ton centrifuge accommodates experimental payloads up to 0.45 x 0.42 x 0.60 m and will accelerate a payload of 140 kg up to 200 g. This centrifuge has been converted for use as a centrifuge permeameter by the PI to investigate water flow processes in unsaturated soils.

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s geotechnical facility includes state of the art centrifuges used for research, industry design, and instructional purposes. The facilities include three geotechnical centrifuges. The largest of these centrifuges is a 400 g-ton centrifuge. In terms of g-ton capacity, this centrifuge is one of the most powerful in the world. It is capable of accelerating an 1815 kg payload to a maximum of 200 g in 14 minutes.

The centrifuge is used for numerous research projects investigating the static and seismic performance of retaining structures and slopes, seepage mechanisms, contaminant transport, and offshore foundation structures. The 6 m radius of the centrifuge arm permits an essentially uniform g-level to be applied to the full height of the centrifuge model. The swinging-basket type centrifuge platform can support a container footprint of 1.2 m by 1.2 m. This platform can accommodate boxes with a height of 0.91 m, with a maximum headroom of 1.35 m for offset actuators and loading devices. One of the payloads is a loading frame which can be used to evaluate soil-foundation interaction.

The centrifuge can be used to simulate earthquake motions in flight by utilizing a servo-hydraulic shake-table. The data acquisition system for the 400 g-ton centrifuge includes a NI PXI data acquisition system combined with a 12-slot SCXI chassis, with modules suitable for signal conditioning for LVDTs, strain-gauge-type sensors, accelerometers, and capacitance-type differential pressure transducers. Voltage control capabilities are also possible to operate solenoid and electronic flow valves. The 400 g-ton centrifuge includes 2 hydraulic rotary union lines which can be used to supply pressurized fluid to the centrifuge platform.

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