A Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) Detection System for Assessing Scour Countermeasures and the Stability of Hydraulic Structures

This project will develop and demonstrate the application of an integrated remote-sensing system based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for monitoring, inspection, and life estimation of hydraulic structures for developing an effective scour countermeasure strategy. Work in Stage 1 will focus on improving the hardware and software of the RFID system and testing the system in the laboratory. The sensors (transponders) of the RFID system will be enhanced by adding the "awake-up" function for selectively detecting a transponder, an inclinometer for automatically measuring the angle of the transponder axis relative to the antenna, an automated readout of the RF Return Signal Strength Indication (RSSI). Furthermore, the most appropriate chemical compound for protecting the transponders against moisture buildup, vibrations and extremely low temperatures will be identified to encapsulate the transponders. A multiplexer will be integrated with the RFID system base station (reader) to allow the connection of three antennas to the reader. A software package with Graphical User Interface (GUI) previously developed in-house for controlling the RFID system will be improved for displaying and storing the transponder inclination and RSSI readings from all three antennas connected via the multiplexer. These readings will be utilized by the software for estimating the distances of a transponder from the three antennas. A triangulation algorithm based on the circumcircle triangle theory will be incorporated into the software package for determining first the geospatial x, y and z and subsequently the global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the transponders. Experimentation in a laboratory flume will be conducted to estimate the depth and three-dimensional (3D) geometry of the scour hole, as well as the potential subsidence of model hydraulic structures replicating prototypical structures (to be monitored in the field during Stage 2). The enhanced transponders will be buried around and placed within the model structures for estimating the scour hole depth and their potential subsidence, respectively, using the RSSI and inclination measurements from three antennas. The evolution of the scour hole 3D geometry will be captured by following a 3D Langrangian geospatial approach, where a large number of small transponders will be released into the scour hole and interrogated continuously. The scour hole geometry derived from the Langrangian geospatial approach will be verified using an ultrasonic ranging system. Work in Stage 2 will focus on the application and testing of the RFID technology for monitoring scour around hydraulic structures in the field, and on the dissemination and transfer of the developed technology. Through collaboration with the Washington State Department of Transportation, the improved RFID system, developed in Stage 1, will be used to evaluate the maximum depth and the evolution of the scour hole as well as the potential subsidence of Engineered Log Jam (ELJ) structures, which will be constructed at Mile Post (MP) 100.7 of Skagit River, WA. An RFID reader base station will be installed at the field site along with three antennas overlooking a series of transponders buried at predetermined depths within the sediment bed in the vicinity of the ELJ structures. To improve the field practicality of the system, the RFID system power supply will be constantly charged by a solar panel and remote data transmission will be ensured by a wireless data transmission system via satellite communication. The displacement of the transponders from their original locations due to scour action will be detected by the RFID reader, and will, in turn, be estimated through RSSI and inclination measurements from the three antennas yielding the scour depth. Additional transponders will be placed within the ELJ structures to evaluate their potential subsidence. Upon detection of scour from the installed transponder RSSI readings, the evolution of the 3D scour hole geometry will be monitored following the Langrangian geospatial approach, for which a large number of transponders will be released within the scour hole and continuously tracked. The scour hole geometry determined via the Langrangian geospatial approach will be verified using standard surveying practices and sonar surveys. Technology transfer efforts will be focused on building awareness and persuading potential users, such as the Tennessee Department of Transportation, of the capabilities of this technology. As part of these technology transfer efforts, validation experiments using the RFID system will be conducted at the large-scale flume of the J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Laboratory of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, where key personnel will also be trained in the use of the system. The final report will provide all data and results and plans for implementation of the technology by state departments of transportation (DOTs).


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-30, IDEA

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Tennessee, Knoxville

    Knoxville, TN  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Papanicolaou, Thanos

  • Start Date: 20150715
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40032

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01569560
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-30, IDEA
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jul 16 2015 1:00AM