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"Full Spectrum Encompasses "STARS" Technology

Did you know that Team UAH's "Full Spectrum" is actually part of an advanced technology demonstration performed as a deliverable by Optechnology, Inc. and subcontractor, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, under the U.S. Army's Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program?

Another ConcreteCanoe.org exclusive!

ConcreteCanoe.org is very pleased to elaborate on "STARS" technology and the competition strategy underlying Team UAH's bid to win the 2006 National Concrete Canoe Competition.

Team UAH Says, "We've got it covered!"

Team UAH is taking hull design to a new level this year by incorporating new developments in cementitious technology into their 2006 NCCC entry, "Full Spectrum."  According to chapter president Annette Wilson, "Our boat is a Strategically Tuned Absolutely Resilient Structure (STARS) that acts as an energy storage device."

Because it was generated in Front Page, you'll need to use Microsoft Explorer to view this animation.

"We designed a cementitious matrix with a customized aggregate that allows our concrete canoe to flex.  When torsional and bending modes combine, the hull morphs to mimic the locomotive motion of aquatic creatures." ... Team UAH

As the team pulls their paddles from the water, the elastic strain energy stored in the deformed shape is converted into forward momentum.

Shooting "STARS"...

"STARS" are unique in that their component materials are purposefully stressed and deformed to the largest extent possible to store the maximum amount of potential energy.  They are designed based on the strength, stiffness, and the position of the component materials in the composite section and are therefore more complex and versatile compared to simple energy storage devices such as springs.

The ability of STARS to store and release energy depends upon a complex interaction
between the shape, modal response, and the forcing function applied to drive the structure.

STARS have captured the attention of the U.S. Congress, NASA, and the DoD.  Faculty at UAH have secured funding to build facilities and exploit the underlying technology. A STARS class is being offered regularly at UAH and efforts initiated there spawned a new corporate start, called Optechnology, Inc., via the U.S. Army’s Small Business Innovative Research program.

Kirk Biszick, Optechnology's director of engineering, remarked, "In general, component materials that have very large differences in stiffness characterize STARS and research conducted by Team UAH has shown that this attribute offers structural engineers more design flexibility than traditional advanced aerospace composites fabricated from materials, such as graphite or Kevlar® and epoxy.  The stiffness ratio associated with these common composite structures is typically one hundred whereas this ratio may be orders of magnitude higher in STARS."

According to Team UAH's faculty advisors John Gilbert and Houssam Toutanji, "Cementitious composites may someday replace advanced aerospace composites and we have high hopes of using these materials to support telescopes in space, for rocket fuselages, to build a lunar colony, or low-cost emergency shelters on Earth.  The U.S. Congress and the DoD are supporting our efforts and Team UAH is using the U.S. Army’s state-of-the-art Remote Readiness Asset Prognostic and Diagnostic System to quantify the dynamic characteristics of their canoe."

According to Jim Holeman, president of Holeman Scientific, "We are designing wireless communication links and sensors that are specially tailored for the team's use."  When asked to comment about UAH's competition strategy Wilson replied, "We tried to cover all of our bases this year and incorporated new developments in "STARS" technology in an effort to enhance our boat's swimming motion.  We plan to release details of the project at the national competition."

We asked Rot Berryman, Full Spectrum's designer, to comment on his boat's dynamic performance:  "The first mode is anti-symmetrical torsion and the second mode is flutter bending.  When they combine as shown in the animation, the boat acts like a fish swimming along with its paddlers to increase their input efficiency."

Wilson added, "The hull shapes of the winning entries at nationals are designed to satisfy conflicting requirements and trade-offs must be made between speed, tracking, and maneuverability.  Because all of the major competitors have similar goals, their boats have begun to look amazingly similar in shape" "2005 NCCC Coverage" - includes photos of all boats at 2005 national competition).  "But looks can be deceiving,"

Gilbert elaborated, "Boats of similar shape and weight are not equally efficient because their dynamic response and modal parameters depend on the density, stiffness, and position of the materials employed during fabrication, as well as the physical constraints imposed by structural members and boundary conditions encountered while racing." 

Wilson and Berryman plan to elaborate along with fellow teammates when Team UAH delivers their oral presentation at the 2006 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition to be held June 15th through 17th at OSU in Stillwater, OK.

Additional information about the project can be found at TeamUAH.org.