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Idaho State University engineering professor Sorensen receives $25,000 National Park Service grant to study durability of masonry mortar

Posted May 15, 2012

The National Park Service has awarded an $25,000 federal competitive Preservation, Technology and Training Grant to Idaho State University's Andrew Sorensen, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, who will study the long-term effects of weathering on fiber reinforced masonry mortars used in preserving historical buildings.

The grant, titled "In-Situ Durability of PVA Fiber Reinforced Mortars," will allow Sorensen to study masonry mortars that include polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) fibers. The utilization of these fiber-reinforced mortars has become an increasingly popular method for improving the capacity of unreinforced masonry structures and is used to help preserve historic masonry structures.

Sorensen will study the long-term weathering effects that the inclusion of the PVA fibers has on the strength of the mortar, which is important to historic masonry structures because repair techniques need to be as minimally invasive as possible. The study will determine the expected life of PVA mortars and whether the PVA mortar breaks down prematurely, which would results in additional repairs to a structure.

A portion of the research funding will be used to purchase lab equipment to simulate the freeze-thaw process of natural weathering under accelerated circumstances, and will add to the ISU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s long-term research capabilities.  Additional funding support in the form of matching funds is being provided by the Idaho State University College of Science and Engineering.

The Preservation, Technology and Training grants program is administered by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, an office of the National Park Service. In addition to caring for our national parks, the National Park Service also maintains the National Register of Historic Places and is the preeminent leader in historic preservation technology, training, and education in the United States. The National Register encompasses thousands of historical buildings and sites across the country including many masonry buildings and other civil structures such as bridges.  

Any questions regarding this grant can be directed to Sorensen at soreandr@isu.edu.

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