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Technical Service Center

TSC Videos

These five brief videos, which feature work being done at the Denver Technical Service Center, were produced in 2008 by Dave Walsh, Pacific Northwest Regional Photographer. The videos run about 2 minutes each and cover such topics as:


Robot Pipe Inspector

Dr. Fred Haver, Electrical Engineer:  "This project is to help people find voids around conduits that go through embankments.  These voids can provide paths for water to travel through the embankment. If water can travel through the embankment, it can cause problems, eventually erode the soil around the pipe, and this can cause a failure.

"This uses a technique similar to tapping on walls—getting a hollow sound or a solid sound.  We can adjust the speed of the crawler through the pipe. Solenoids impact the wall of the pipe and generate a noise recorded by a computer.  The computer can analyze these sounds to determine if there are voids, or empty spaces, around the pipe and if the soil is compacted around the pipe.

"We then coordinate this information with our visual inspections, using a television.  If we can detect these voids before they become a problem, they are fairly easy to fix, either by grouting from the surface or from inside the pipe or, in the worst case, we can dig this up and compact the soil around the pipe."

Mussel Invasion

Dr. Denise Hosler, Botanist:  "We are viewing zebra mussels and larvae counts.  Our biological research is revolving around developing better, more accurate methods to determine if they are in the water and what the population density is."

Dr. Allan Skaja, Chemist:  "We are conducting coating research and quagga mussel research to find coatings and materials that will keep the zebra and quagga mussels out of the our infrastructure.  We are coating steel grates and plates to look at what materials these mussels will attach to.  This simulates where we have infrastructure that is clogged with these mussels.  We are looking at materials that will repel these mussels."

Dr. Hosler:  "This benefits Reclamation in many ways, including early detection. If we can detect mussels early, we have about three to five years before the population density gets to be problematic."

Dr. Skaja:  "It's going to benefit Reclamation by having coating systems that the mussels will not attach to. In that way, we can keep our infrastructure maintained the way it's supposed to be."

Fish Stress Test

Dr. Don Portz, Fisheries Biologist:  "We are looking at the physiological stress of green sturgeon when they are in a collection tank.  (We looked at Chinook in the past.)  We are looking at the fishes level of stress of being in a holding tank.  This is important as the Tracy Fish Collection Facility collects the fish and holds them in a tank as they pass water through the facility.  They then transport the fish back to the river safely.  You can look at handling stress and stress of being in a confined space and find out if we may be compromising the fishes health, survival, and population in the long run.

"We measure stress in two ways.  Last year, we tested Chinook and measured their blood.  This year, we used green sturgeon, a threatened species.  We implanted a catheter in their veins to get repeated blood samples. This way, we don't compromise the fishes health and it is less invasive.

"These fish are entrained in Reclamation and other water user's canals. Reclamation needs to salvage these fish from our canals and deliver them back safely into the river.   In today's world, with environmental concerns, we need to come up with ways to save the fish from handling and salvage practices. We need to reduce incidental takes, especially under the Endangered Species Act.  We are also developing ways to handle the fish less, which lowers the operation and management costs for these fishes. We have found that we can leave fish in the tanks longer—that being in the tank is not as stressful. Thus, fewer fish hauling trips need to be made to the delta.  

"This is a collaborative effort with California, the Department of Natural Resources, and participants throughout the world."

Canal Modeling

Robert Einhellig, Hydraulic Engineer:  "We use the canal modeling facility for a variety of purposes, including training.  We conduct training classes with people who operate canals and water delivery systems.  We bring people in for training courses two or three times a year. These courses cover topics needed in operation and management of canals and related water delivery systems, for example, flow measurement, water management, automation technologies, and communication technologies.

"We have tested a variety of data acquisition systems, water level sensors, and other automation equipment.   We've developed automated farm turnouts, which are gate structures that have a flow measurement device to maintain a constant delivery flow rate—regardless of the levels in the canal.  We are working with a field program to develop a low cost check structure that can be automated and built by the canal operators themselves. We are looking for ways to apply modern technology in a low cost manner to benefit canal operations.

"The WinFlume Program designs and analyzes long-throated flumes for flow measurement. Many districts use other types of flumes (cutthroat flumes, Parshall flumes), but we've found that long-throated flumes offer a flexible option that is cheaper to construct and can adapt to greater variations in water levels.   We've developed a computer program to design and analyze these flumes.

"Reclamation benefits from this to encourage and support better management of the limited water resources throughout the western U.S.   We do a lot of work in this lab and in our regional and area offices with irrigation districts in on-the-ground projects.  Our goal is to help these entities better conserve and manage water."

5 Million Pound Tester

Movie clip:  "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive—up in the sky it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman!  It's . . ."

Narrator:  "It's Reclamation's own supermachine! The 5 million pound universal testing machine is one of two like it in the U.S.  It can not only smash concrete columns 32 feet tall, but it can crack an egg with delicate force. 

"Since the 1950s, Reclamation's structural engineers have used this machine to test the limits of building materials deployed in dams, powerplants, canals and other government facilities.  Almost 50 years ago, the testing machine arrived on railroad cars and was rebuilt in Building 56 in the Denver Federal Center.  The testing bay was enlarged to make room for the testing machine's immense size and its traveling crane. Steamshovels dug a hole two stories deep and the concrete foundation was poured for the 750,000 pound, cast iron and steel behemoth.  The installation took a year to complete.

"The 4-story universal tester is capable of exerting a load of over 5 million pounds on specimens of up to 32 feet long in either compression (crushing) or tension (stretching).  The machine extends 50 feet above the floor and 16 feet below.  The largest single piece is the bedplate, a steel casting weighing 48 tons. To apply pressure to the specimens, a 96,000 pound crosshead piece transmits a load hydraulically to pressure transducers.  It is moved up and down on two precision-made screws, each 16 inches in diameter by 46 feet long and weighing about 40,000 pounds.

"The downward movement of the crosshead applies either a compression or a tension load to specimens, depending on where the specimen is placed. Weights can be applied up to 4½ inches per minute.  Apart from testing materials for hundreds of dam designs, the universal testing machine has used its superpowers to test Hoover dam's penstock stiffening rods, reinforced concrete columns, and materials for NASA space shuttle, the Bureau of Mines, the California Department of Transportation, and more--everything from launch pads to railroad ties to rubber tires.

"The 5 million pound universal testing machine—another unique feature from TSC's Materials Engineering and Research Laboratory (86-68180)."


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