EES Seminar: Integration of Sustainability Metrics into a Bottom-up Approach for Sustainable Construction


11:45 am-12:35 pm
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202 Particle Science & Technology
Gainesville, FL 32611


Integration of Sustainability Metrics into a Bottom-up Approach for Sustainable Construction

Elham (Ellie) H. Fini, Ph.D., PE, North Carolina A&T State University

To enhance economic, environmental, and social well-being, both private and public agencies are emphasizing the need for adopting more “sustainable” practices and products in design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure, including but not limited to sustainable pavements, sprayed fire-resistive material (SFRM), and ultra-thin polymer concrete overlays for bridge decks. The trend toward sustainable pavements has led the pavement industry to place more emphasis on the application of new materials such as warm-mix asphalt (WMA), half-warm-mix asphalt (HWMA), and cold-mix asphalt (CMA), in order to reduce fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and the carbon footprint of pavement. Depletion of aggregate resources and a stricter regulatory environment have led to greater recycling, emphasizing usage of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), recycled asphalt shingles (RAS), and recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) mixes. With support from the National Science Foundation, Fini’s group has been working on developing sustainable construction practices, while integrating sustainability metrics into a bottom-up approach for the design and engineering of bio-materials for construction.
Density functional analysis and molecular dynamics simulations are being conducted in conjunction with laboratory experiments to study how the two materials interact and affect molecular packing, aggregation, and structuring. For instance, a major component of bio-materials derived from swine manure is hexadecanamide, a saturated hydrocarbon terminated with a primary amide. Computational modeling suggests that this molecule can alter the aggregation behavior of poly aromatic hydrocarbons such as those found in petroleum and asphalt, improving their rheological and mechanical properties. Both H-bonding and dispersion interactions are important in the self-assembly of hexadecanamide, but their relative impacts may vary in different contexts. Hexadecanamide possesses both polar and non-polar chemical groups that allow promoting the dispersion of constituents with different polarizability in an asphalt matrix. A multi-scale development and deployment of bio-materials in the construction could introduce an integration of biological science, chemistry, and mechanics while revolutionizing bio-mass waste management.

Speaker Biography:
Elham (Ellie) Fini is co-founder of Bio-Adhesive Alliance Inc., the director of the center for highway pavement preservation, an associate professor, and a J. W. Fulbright Scholar at North Carolina A&T State University. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008. She has been a research affiliate at MIT’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering since 2011 and an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador since 2017. She is currently serving as the associate editor of the ASCE Journal of Materials as well as the co-founder of a start-up company, Bio-Adhesive Alliance Inc. She has been collaborating with multiple professional and scientific societies, federal agencies, and congressional offices. She has been an invited speaker at Kavli Frontiers of Science at the National Academy of Science. She has also served as the president of ASCE’s North Carolina Northern Branch and a program director for the National Science Foundation. She has been actively fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within her campus and beyond. Her achievements were recognized via multiple awards including an NSF CAREER award, a 2017 BEYA STEM Innovation award, BioNight R&D award, and a nomination for a 2017 NC BioTech Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.


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