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Washington State University National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability & Life-Extension (TriDurLE)

Licensing deal aims to enable safer winter roads with more sustainable chemicals

An anti-icing technology developed at Washington State University is being licensed by Fusione Corp., a Massachusetts-based snow and ice operations company, with the goal of creating environmentally responsible and sustainable snow and ice road treatments. Read More

Recycling Industrial Byproduct to Create Environmentally Friendly Concrete

Civil & environmental engineering doctoral student Zhipeng Li is conducting critical research on the novel use of fly ash in concrete, funded by the University Transportation Center TriDurLE (Transportation Infrastructure Durability and Life Extension). His journey since arriving at WSU—in spite of personal challenges—is a true testament of the academic fortitude of a young scientist.

Zhipeng grew up in China and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2014 from Wuhan University of Science & Technology and a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering in 2017 from Wuhan Polytechnic University. Zhipeng came to the U.S. in 2019 to earn his doctoral degree in civil engineering from Washington State University, where he works in Xianming Shi’s lab studying geopolymers.

“I work with geopolymer composites that are modified by trace amounts of graphene oxide,” says Zhipeng. “In particular, I am researching the use of fly ash-based geopolymer composites, which are more sustainable and greener and have great potential to replace the conventional Portland cement.”

Fly ash is an industrial solid waste and environmental pollutant released by factories and thermal power plants as a by-product of power generation. The disposal of fly ash has become a serious environmental hazard, thus the utilization of the waste material for new products is an economical and environmentally friendly solution. Considerable research has been undertaken on its potential use.

The use of fly ash to fully replace cement in mortar and concrete could result in lower water demand due to the spherical shape of fly ash and could also greatly increase strength and durability due to reduced porosity. Ongoing research on the use of fly ash is exploring its durability under variable weather conditions and the addition of nanomaterials to enhance durability. Zhipeng is currently working on a project for TriDurLE titled “Design of Fly Ash Based Geopolymer Concrete-filled FRP Tube Composite for Highly Durable and Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure.”

Zhipeng is also an avid technical writer, publishing as author or co-author eight journal articles with an additional article currently under review. In addition, he is the recipient of several awards including the 2021 Outstanding Research Assistant Award from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; the 2020 Distinguished Reviewer Award from the Journal of Infrastructure Preservation and Resilience; the 2020 Waheed Uddin Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 2nd Place, from the National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability & Life-Extension; the 2020 David C. Gross Scholarship, American Coal Ash Association Educational Foundation (ACAAEF); and the 2019 and 2020 Smart & Green Infrastructure Research Scholarship.

While accomplishing so much, Zhipeng has faced challenges at WSU that are shared by many international students. “The main difficulty for me and many international students is that you miss your family,” says Zhipeng. “The cultural differences are hard. Also, I studied English in China for 10 years, but the language is different when you get here.” These problems were enhanced over the past months with travel restrictions, quarantines, and isolation due to COVID.

Zhipeng anticipates his future as an engineer, hoping to defend his dissertation and graduate in 2022 and continue his research thereafter. Watch for his defense in the coming months on fly ash-based geopolymer for concrete infrastructure: development, characterization, application, and lifecycle assessment.


Li,Z., Shi, X. Effects of Nanomaterials on Engineering Performance of a Potassium Methyl  Siliconate-Based Sealer for Cementitious Composite. ASCE Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 2021, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)MT.1943-5533.0004148.

Li, Z., Xu, G., Shi, X. Reactivity of Coal Fly Ash Used in Cementitious Binder Systems: A State-of-the-Art Overview. Fuel, 2021, 301.

Li, Z., Fei, M., Huyan, C., Shi, X. Nano-Engineered, Fly Ash-Based Geopolymer Composites: An Overview. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 2021, 168, 105334.

※ Lei, Z., Li, Z., Zhang, X., Shi, X. Durability of CFRP-Wrapped Concrete in Cold Regions: A Laboratory Evaluation of Montmorillonite Nanoclay-Modified Siloxane Epoxy Adhesive. Construction and Building Materials, 2021, 290. (co-first author)

※ Tang, Z., Li, Z., Fan, L., Gong, J., Zhong, J., Shi, X. Effect of Surface Tension, Foaming Stabilizer, and Graphene Oxide on the Properties of Foamed Paste. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 2021, 21(5), 3123–3133. (co-first author)

Li, Z., Shi, X. Graphene Oxide Modified, Clinker-Free Cementitious Paste with Principally Alkali-Activated Fly Ash. Fuel, 2020, 269,.

※ Gong, J., Li, Z., Zhang, R., Li, J., Shi, X. Synergistic Effects of Nano-montmorillonite and Polyethylene Microfiber in Foamed Paste with High Volume Fly Ash Binder. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 2019, 19(8), 4465-4473. (co-first author)

Li, Z., Gong, J., Du, S., Wu, J., Li, J., Hoffman, D., & Shi, X. (2017). Nano-montmorillonite modified foamed paste with a high volume fly ash binder. RSC advances7(16), 9803-9812.

Gong, J., Yu, L., Li, Z., Shi, X. Mechanical Activation Improves Reactivity and Reduced Leaching of MSWI Bottom Ash in a Cement Hydration System. Transportation Research Record, 2021. Under review (Corresponding author).



Call for Abstracts: Resilience, Failure Mitigation, and Preservation of Concrete Bridges and Structures

Professors Jimmy Kim and Xianming Shi will be moderating a special technical session at the spring 2023 ACI conference focusing on advances in the resilience, failure mitigation, and preservation of concrete bridges and structures. The convention is scheduled for April 2-6, 2023 in San Francisco.

Call for Abstracts

Of interest are presentations concerning a wide variety of technical aspects from laboratory experiments to field applications, involving the evaluation, design, and construction of load-bearing members and systems. Specific subjects include resilience, redundancy, performance reliability, fragility, recovery after seismic events, rehabilitation and preservation methods, uncertainty analysis, failure mechanisms, remaining service life, functionality metrics, and hazard mitigation. Case studies are considered appropriate. The session will bring to light recent research findings and best practices, and will provide an opportunity to discuss present challenges and technical demands. The session will benefit those who lead the design and construction of bridges and structures toward resilient and sustainable built-environments.

Deadline for Abstracts: January 31, 2022

1) Presentation title, 2) authors’ name, affiliation, mailing address, and email, and 3) abstract no more than 300 words

Send To:

Yail Jimmy Kim, University of Colorado Denver, 1200 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80217, USA
Phone: 303-315-7497

CWRU Student Earns Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship

Xijin Zhang, a Case Western Reserve University Ph.D. candidate advised by Dr. Xiong (Bill) Yu, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020-2021 Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship from the Northeast Ohio WTS Chapter.

The WTS Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship was established in 1981 by WTS International in memory of Helene for her dedicated service and a spirit to engage female transportation engineers. The scholarship is awarded to women pursuing career paths in transportation or a related field.

Xijin’s study is on the development of innovative bio-mediated civil engineering materials. More specifically on incorporating advanced microbial-based materials to improve sustainability and environmentally benign transportation infrastructure.

CWRU Student Receives Outstanding Graduate Student Org Member

CEE Ph.D. student Xudong Fan of Case Western Reserve University was recently awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Organization Member. He is advised by Dr. Xiong (Bill) Yu, TriDurLE site director for CWRU.  Xudong is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the immediate past President of the Civil Engineering Graduate Student Association.  In this capacity, he worked with the CEGSA leadership team to organize a variety of activities to build the bond between its membership and with the Department, which served as the basis for the Department nomination. The award was presented by the School of Graduate Studies as part of the Dorothy Pijan Student Leadership Awards.

Jialuo He, Ph.D., receives the Outstanding Dissertation Award

The WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering recently selected Jialuo He as the recipient of John Roberson Outstanding Dissertation Award. The title of his PhD dissertation is, “Development, Characterization and Modeling of Self-Healing Cementitious Materials.” Self-healing technology holds great promise in benefiting the durability and resilience of concrete infrastructure. While various external self-healing systems can improve the post-cracking recovery of mechanical properties of cementitious materials, few studies have explored their implications on concrete durability. Dr. He’s research responds to this critical gap by developing and investigating two external self-healing systems.

Dr. He’s dissertation demonstrates the great potential of self-healing technology in enabling concrete infrastructure with extended service life, which serves the interest of this nation. For instance, his study revealed that the self-healing system consisting of urea-formaldehyde microcapsules (containing calcium nitrite as the healant) and PVA microfibers could effectively reduce about 20-25% of the total shrinkage, 15-20% of the chloride migration coefficient, and 40-65% of the gas permeability of cementitious composite. Such a self-healing concrete could survive over 700 rapid freeze-thaw cycles, whereas the regular concrete counterpart could barely survive 60 cycles.

Jialuo He began his PhD program at Washington State University in August 2015. He has published nine academic papers in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. In addition to his PhD research, Jialuo completed a two-year project that evaluated the performance of discrete sacrificial anodes in protecting steel rebar in salt-contaminated concrete, for which he was awarded the Simpson Strong-Tie Corrosion Research Scholarship. He also received the Richard Perteet Graduate Fellowship in Civil Engineering in 2017 and 2018. Congratulations Dr. He!

S&T Faculty Appointed to Standing Committee on Pavement Preservation of Transportation Research Board (TRB)

Dr. Jenny Liu recently has been appointed a member of  the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Pavement Preservation — AKT20 from 2021-2024. TRB is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which provides independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.  Dr. Liu has been actively involved in TRB activities. Currently she is also a member of TRB AKM80 Committee on Mineral Aggregates. She has served on other TRB committees including AFK30, AFK50, and AFH50 for years in the past.

MS&T Faculty Appointed as Associate Editor of ASCE Journal of Cold Regions Engineering

Jenny Liu.

Dr. Jenny Liu from the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at Missouri S&T was invited to serve as associate editor of ASCE Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, which is a world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journal in the general area of cold regions engineering published by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Established in 1987, the topics of this journal include ice engineering, ice force, construction on permafrost and seasonal frost, cold weather construction, environmental quality and engineering in cold regions, snow and ice control, cold regions materials, and surveying and planning in cold regions. Dr. Liu has been serving as an Associate Editor for another two ASCE journals (Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering and Journal of Transportation Engineering Part B: Pavements) for more than10 years.