The Environmental Engineering Laboratory conducts research and provides analytical capabilities in the area of environmental science and engineering. The facility consists of approximately 10,000 square feet, divided into laboratory bays and a centralized
analytical equipment core.
Faculty conducting research in the environmental engineering laboratory include:
We have a wide range of analytical capabilities for performing environmental chemistry, microbiology, and materials characterization.
Environmental Chemistry Characterization:
Engineering Laboratory has established collaborations with faculty of the
Departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Geology and Environmental
Science, and Chemistry as well as the Graduate School of Public Health. We also
collaborate with non-University entities for joint activity in environmental
science and technology developments. If you are interested in collaborating,
please reach out to one of the environmental engineering faculty listed above.
University of Pittsburgh Hydraulic Fracturing Laboratory supports research into
hydraulic fracture propagation. It includes: 1) a true-triaxial cell, including
hydraulic pump and pressure control, capable of applying up to 20 MPa of stress
independently in each of 3 direction to specimens measuring up to 300 mm on a
side, 2) multi-axis video monitoring that is enabled by viewing ports in the
loading platens of the triaxial cell, backlight sources built into the loading
platens, and digital video cameras 3) a syringe pump used for injecting fluid
for hydraulic fracturing, 4) combined acoustic emission detection and
Photo from Modern Shale Gas Development
in the United States: A Primer, US Department of Energy, April 2009.
Bottom: Polyaxial load frame (left) and acoustic emission detection and
ultrasound tomography system (right).
The Laboratory for NDE and SHM studies is a new facility established in September 2006. The facility consists of about 750 square feet of dust-free space, which contains the state-of-the-art equipment in ultrasonic testing and acoustic emission (AE) technology. The laboratory includes:
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Pavement Mechanics and Materials Laboratory (PMML) has developed into an all encompassing laboratory equipped to perform a full range of tasks including the casting, curing and testing of everything from concrete specimens to full-scale pavements. The 2700 sq. ft. facility features the latest equipment in both destructive and non-destructive testing of portland cement concrete.
Housed within the lab are two environmentally controlled rooms. The 1007 cu. ft. room can be adjusted to replicate a wide range of environmental conditions for curing portland cement concrete test specimens while the 630 cu. ft. room is maintained at a constant temperature and humidity for determining the drying-shrinkage properties of concrete in accordance with ASTM-157.
The laboratory is equipped with everything needed for measuring basic aggregate properties such as the gradation, absorption capacity and specific gravity, as well as, more detailed characterizations such as determining wear resistance using the Los Angeles abrasion machine or running a micro-deval test. A 5.5 sq. ft. concrete mixer and all other necessary tools for casting concrete specimens are available, as well as equipment for measuring the properties of fresh concrete.
The laboratory is equipped to test the more basic properties of hardened concrete, such as, strength, elastic modulus and Poisson's ratio along with the more elaborate testing equipment needed for measuring such things as the dynamic modulus, thermal coefficient of expansion, fracture toughness of concrete and the surface texture of fractured slabs using a laser profiler and a linear traverse equipment. Some of the sample preparation equipment available in the laboratory includes a concrete saw, core machine and a fume hood for sulfur capping.
Additionally, the laboratory houses a Baldwin compression machine that can be used to apply loads up to 200,000 lbs and a Test Mark compression machine with a capacity of 400,000 lbs. A multitude of tests can also be performed using the MTS TestStar Controller. The controller can be used for performing dynamic testing using a closed-loop servo hydraulic test machine. This system can be fed by either a 10 gpm or 60 gpm hydraulic pump.
Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory (PITTS) Laboratory is
a state-of-the-art research and instructional
facility which mimics a real-world Traffic Operations Center with corresponding
infrastructure and institutional connections to multiple state and local
transportation agencies. The lab is housed on the third floor
of Swanson building and currently employs several researchers (from
postdoctoral research associates to undergraduate research assistants) who work
in general area of urban traffic operations and management, traffic signal systems, public
transportation systems, etc. All of our staff regularly works both with real-world
traffic platforms and high-fidelity microsimulation simulation models thus
bridging the gap between reality/field operations and experiments in
scientific/controlled environment. Our simulation models are regularly
interfaced with various field signal control firmware (Econolite ASC/3, Siemens
NextPhase, etc.) including a variety of adaptive software which are important
for the execution of the field-like experiments.
The SGD group represents the next generation of interdisciplinary education and research in environmental science, engineering, and sustainability. Through our research and outreach, we tackle some of the most pressing concerns of the 21st century.
In the lab, we can do the following:
SGD Students Kristen Ostermann and Monica Rothermel building a wall section to experiment with the use of Infrared Thermography to identify energy losses and efficient insulation materials.
Algal biomass can be converted to biodiesel.
Left: Algal biomass grown in photobioreactors in the lab
Right: Undergraduate researcher Kayla Redington testing the algae for carbohydrate and lipid content.
In an indoor greenhouse, the SGD group tests phytoremediation potential, growth potential, and other features of biofuels on marginal and contaminated soils.
Left: outside of the greenhouse
Right: inside of the greenhouse
The Watkins-Haggart Structural Engineering Laboratory (WHSEL) is the facility at the heart of the experimental structural engineering research efforts at the University of Pittsburgh. This unique facility is located in the sub-basement of Benedum Hall
on the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. The Lab is a 4000 ft2 (370 m2) high-bay testing facility with a massive reaction floor. The high-bay testing area is serviced by a 10 ton radio controlled bridge crane and other heavy
material handling equipment.
As a compliment to the reaction floor, the Lab also has an extremely versatile self-contained reaction frame and the following major equipment:
The laboratory maintains a number of computer controlled data acquisition systems that allow for the automated reading and recording of over 130 discrete channels of instrumentation. The lab has full-scale nondestructive evaluation equipment and field-testing
equipment suitable for a variety of in situ test programs.
Since 2004, the laboratory has specialized in conducting large scale fatigue testing at load ranges up to 50,000 pounds (220 kN). To date, fatigue tests totaling over 120 million load cycles have been conducted. The largest tests conducted by the WHSEL
team where the 2006 and 2010 tests of multiple 90 foot long (28 m), 70 ton long prestressed girders recovered from the collapsed Lake View Drive Bridge. The lab has conducted extensive research for PennDOT, NCHRP and various other public and private
Nonconventional Materials Research in WHSEL
The WHSEL is the home of the PITT-NOCMAT, an interdisciplinary research center focusing on the use of nonconventional and vernacular materials in the built environment. Specifically, WHSEL is home to international-leading research into the mechanical
and material properties of bamboo. Research conducted in the WHSEL directly supports international efforts at establishing codes and standards for bamboo and other nonconventional construction materials.
The mission of PITT-NOCMAT is to engage in cutting edge research, service-learning education, engineering design involving sustainably (typically locally) sourced materials and appropriate technologies that empower communities in need.
Eco-Env-Hydrology and Water Resources Laboratory focuses on exploring the interactions
and feedbacks at the interface between ecological, biological, environmental, and
hydrological systems. We emphasize studies, from field measurements to computer
model simulations, which govern water, energy, carbon, and nitrogen
cycles of the ecosystem. Research at the Lab includes the following areas: (1)
designing and building sensors and wireless sensor network and monitoring
biological and hydrological variables for studying the health of our eco-environment
system; (2) building robust eco-bio-geo-hydrological models; (3) investigating
how at different spatial scales the interactions of these cycles affect the
health of our environment and ecological systems, (4) studying impacts of these
cycles on the transport of nutrients and pollutants, human health, food
security, and water resources management; and (5) developing and building hydrologic
disaster forecasting and response (HDFR) computer system as a decision-support
tool to assess and forecast hydrologic disasters and to help monitor to ensure
safe transportation under extreme weather events.
The Intelligent Structural Monitoring and Response Testing (iSMaRT) Laboratory is a new facility established in 2019. This facility is located at the second floor of Benedum Hall on the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. The
facility consists of about 600 square feet of dust-free space. The iSMaRT Laboratory facilitates research in the areas of structural health monitoring, self-sustained and self-powered sensors, low-power energy harvesting technologies, and engineering
system informatics. The laboratory includes: