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24 January 2020

We look back at 2019 – a year in review

As DRP closes out the first month of the new year, we’ve looked back at 2019 to take stock of notable achievements, pat ourselves on the back when deserved, and look to further improve our performance. It was quite a year.

We worked on more than 125 projects and almost 700 samples; attended local, national, and international conferences; attained United States Army Corps of Engineers accreditation for a slew of tests; built and moved into a new laboratory facility; and hired exciting young scientists to be part of our team. All of these achievements were possible because of our incredible clients.

We thank and genuinely appreciate all of those who place their trust in DRP to deliver superior petrographic and materials analysis and consultation for their projects. Here are a few details on some of the things that we’ve accomplished together.

Notable Projects

DRP engaged in petrographic and materials investigations throughout the United States and Latin America. We performed aggregate testing to assess their suitability for use in concrete construction work included the assessment of rock and aggregates for use in construction ranging from major hydraulic dams to airfield pavements to riprap for water structures. We investigated concrete durability related to alkali-silica reaction (ASR) in major dams; airfield pavements; highway bridge decks and abutments; highway pavements; and parking structures. We investigated concrete degraded by marine attack, sulfate attack, microbial induced corrosion (MIC) in wastewater treatment plants and sewer lines, and other forms of chemical attack. Other assignments related to durability included looking at freeze-thaw damage and scaling in pavements throughout the United States, investigating flooring related issues in airplane hangars and other facilities with moisture-sensitive flooring, working on pavements affected by alkali-carbonate reaction, and working on corrosion issues in parking structures. One of our most notable assignments related to durability included the privilege of working on the fleet moorings on Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor. And as always, DRP was on the front lines troubleshooting construction issues in the crucible of active construction projects, working on projects all over the world that experienced strength issues, early-age cracking, delaminations, and more.

Conferences and Continuing Education

We maintained our firm commitment to actively participate in technical societies as a means of contributing to our industry and furthering our education. As such, we spent a good deal of time in 2019 attending meetings for various organizations at the local, national, and international levels. In November, Senior Petrographer Chunyu (Joe) Qiao provided our local Rocky Mountain ACI chapter with a technical presentation on the formation factor in concrete. The staff at DRP also regularly attended lunch meetings at the Rocky Mountain chapter. Joe and David Rothstein attended both national conferences for ACI, participating in committees and task groups related to durability, aggregates, cracking, environmental structures, materials science, and plastering.

Also on the ACI front, David led the task group that authored and published the first Technical Note from ACI 201, Durability, ACI 201.3T-19 Joint Deterioration and Chloride Based Deicing Chemicals. In early February, David will co-present an ACI webinar on this topic with Jason Weiss at Oregon State University. Stay tuned for future announcements on how to access this webinar if it is of interest.

Want to learn more, click here to download the Tech Note itself.
Denver had the rare pleasure of being the host city for the summer meeting of ASTM, so all petrographers on deck attended meetings for committees related to aggregates, petrography and ASR. DRP also participated in an ASTM round robin test for investigating bias and error in hardened air-void analyses per ASTM C457. David also attended conferences related to the water and wastewater industry in Chicago (WEFTEC) and San Diego (ACWA).

Beyond our borders, we participated in the 2019 Euroseminar for Microscopy Applied to Building Materials held, of all places, in Toronto, Ontario. David presented a paper that described new methods of using image analysis to quantify the progression of microcracking in concrete affected by ASR. David also participated in a meeting in Ottawa, Canada, for the RILEM Technical Committee TC 259-ISR Prognosis of deterioration and loss of serviceability in structures affected by alkali-silica reactions. This TC is chaired by University of Colorado Professor, Victor Saouma, and should be publishing a state-of-the-art report on this exciting and important topic in early 2020.

US Army Corps of Engineers Accreditation

In September 2019, DRP received accreditation from the USACE Materials Testing Center for seven different tests related to aggregate, concrete, and rock. The approved test methods include the following:

  • CRD 130 Aggregate Scratch Hardness
  • ASTM C136 Sieve Analysis for Coarse and Fine Aggregate
  • ASTM C295 Petrographic Examination of Aggregates
  • ASTM C457 Air Void System Analysis by Microscopic Determination
  • ASTM C856 Petrographic Examination of Hardened Concrete
  • CRD 144 Resistance of Rock to Freezing and Thawing
  • CRD 169 Resistance of Rock to Wetting and Drying

The accreditation is an important milestone that verifies our personnel, equipment, and internal quality control measures meet the standards set by the USACE. Together with our colleagues in Long Beach, DRP can provide the full spectrum of testing to qualify aggregates for USACE and other federal contracts. We will continue to look for accreditation from the USACE and other agencies on tests in the coming year.

A Whole New Laboratory

At the end of October, DRP moved from the Carbon Place location, our home for the past 15 years, to a new state-of-the art facility. Although it is only ~ 1,000 feet from the old location, and literally on the other side of the tracks, the new space feels like a different world. DRP’s new facility is 2.75 times the size of our old shop. As such, we now have dedicated spaces for concrete sample preparation, aggregate sample preparation, thin-section preparation, and SEM section preparation so that each process can be done simultaneously. Through a lot of hard work and long days and (literally) heavy lifting, we had minimal downtime and were up and running at full capacity after ten days. In addition, we now have much more office space for our dedicated staff. It is hard to believe that we had all of the stuff we unpacked stuffed into our old shop—we were literally bursting at the seams…

We are already fine-tuning operations to enhance efficiency and to reduce our turnaround time to our valued clients. We are also looking for ways to maximize our use of the space by developing and offering new and additional services to our clients. Stay tuned for further developments on this front.

New Talent

At the end of the day, DRP is like any other service-oriented enterprise—we depend on attracting and keeping the highest caliber scientists, technical support staff, and administrative personnel. The combined and diverse capabilities and energy of these individuals allow us to deliver unparalleled technical expertise and customer service to our valued clients. In 2019 we recruited and hired two exceptional additions to our staff.
In May, Grace Guryan joined DRP as a Laboratory Technician. Grace came to us with a B.A. degree in geology from Colorado College and experience as a water resources analyst and as a laboratory technician in the geochronology laboratory at MIT. Grace is a very talented young scientist who has proven to be a quick study in all aspects of sample preparation. We look forward to helping her develop as a scientist and take on more responsibilities in arenas such as aggregate and air void analysis.

In December, DRP hired Meredith Strow as a Senior Petrographer. Meredith left a position as a petrographer at the CTL Group in Skokie, Illinois, after almost five years there as a concrete petrographer. During her tenure at CTL, Meredith worked with concrete affected freeze-thaw damage, alkali-aggregate reactions, delayed ettringite formation, and fire damage, among other durability issues. On the troubleshooting front, Meredith worked on assessments of concrete quality, evaluating strength and setting issues, and looking at delaminations and other surface defects. Meredith has experience with all kinds of aggregate testing, including USACE Deleterious Aggregate sequential testing, test methods for flat, soft and fractured particles, and, of course, petrographic examination.

Meredith comes to DRP with a BS in Geology from Illinois State University and an MS in Materials Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her M.S. work involved combining non-destructive testing methods with petrographic methods such as the Damage Rating Index to detect and quantify the amount of ASR gel present in a sample. In addition to experience working with concrete and other cementitious construction materials and aggregates, Meredith has experience with metallurgical testing for failure analysis, corrosion, and welding issues. We are thrilled to have such an exciting and promising scientist join our team.