Covering Element for Protecting Structures Against Scouring and Drag Force

The Anti-Scour Pier Sheath is a novel device which reduces the local scour (loss of material from the bed and banks of a water body, due to moving water) around structures placed in a fluvial, lacustrine, estuarine, coastal or marine environment. Such structures can be piers and abutments of bridges, piles, offshore wind power turbine columns, and other objects. The removal of bottom material can put at risk the structures’ support, threatening their stability and their security: scour is responsible for 60% of the bridge failures in the United States; at the same time, thousands of bridges are scour critical.

The sheath adds resiliency against scour to a submerged structure, critically needed nowadays because the world’s climate change is incrementing the frequency of floods and other extraordinary phenomena which threaten the infrastructure components.

The main feature of the sheath is an especially designed rugosity which controls the hydrodynamics in the vicinity of the structure, reducing the effect of the secondary flow that occurs in the border of attack of the structure and flows downwards, detaching particles from the bottom; the rugosity also damps the turbulence produced by the wake vortices, the second scouring mechanism. Another beneficial effect of the rugosity is the slowing down of the scour process, especially important during floods and other temporary hydraulic phenomena.

Using rugosity to control the hydrodynamics in the vicinity of a submerged structure sets a new paradigm in this field: by default, such type of structure is always built with a smooth surface.

The sheath can include complementary elements to give the ensemble a streamlined profile, enhancing the anti-scour performance. Also, it can be configured to rotate freely to align with a variable direction of flow, if needed; for example, in estuaries and in coastal and marine locations, where different flow directions may occur. The sheath can be cost-effective; can be used as a preventive or as a remedial measure; can withstand any hydraulic conditions; can be applied to any shape of horizontal section of a structure; its installation does not need heavy equipment; it does not increase the underwater profile of the structure, and then it does not provoke alterations in the watercourse that can produce parasite scour effects downstream of the structure; does not need bed preparation; can substitute environment-altering solutions; being underwater, does not interfere with the structure’s aesthetics.

US 76,285,692 issued 2009-12-08   [MORE INFO]

Type of Offer: Licensing

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