Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

2012

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Athanasios (Thanos) N. Papanicolaou

Abstract

This thesis presents an experimental study both in the laboratory and field to develop and test a method for continuously measuring and monitoring scour using an automated identification technology known as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID systems consist of three main components, namely (a) the reader which controls the system, (b) the transponder (derived from transmitter/responder) that transmits data to the reader and (c) the excitation antenna that allows the communication between the reader and the transponder.

The study provides an insight into the RFID technology and develops the framework for using this technology to eventually address two central themes in river mechanics and sediment transport; (a) the determination of the active layer thickness and (b) the scour/deposition depth around a hydraulic structure. In particular, this study develops the methodology for relating the signal strength of a radio frequency (RF) device with the distance between an excitation antenna and the RF device.

The experiments presented herein are classified into two main groups, (1) the laboratory and (2) the RF signal vs. the detection distance experiments (field experiments). The laboratory experiments were designed to understand the effect of key RFID parameters (e.g., transponder orientation with respect to the excitation antenna plane, maximum antenna-transponder detection distance), measured in terms of the transponder return RF signal strength for various antenna-transponder distances, transponder orientations with respect to the excitation antenna plane and different mediums in between the excitation antenna and the transponder, on the overall performance of the RFID system. On the other hand, the RF signal vs. the detection distance experiments were based on the results obtained during the laboratory experiments and focused on developing calibration curves by relating the transponder return RF signal strength with the distance between the excitation antenna and a transponder.

The laboratory results show that the dominant RFID parameters affecting the system performance are (a) the transponder orientation towards the excitation antenna plane and (b) the medium type in between the excitation antenna and the transponder. The differences in reading distances were attributed to the transponder inner antenna type, while the effect of the medium was related with the void ratio, where higher porosity materials have, less RF signal strength decay. The parameter that governs the RF signal strength decay was found to be the distance between the excitation antenna and the transponder (erosion process experiments). The RF signal strength decays almost linearly with distance, while the rate of the RF signal strength decay is controlled by the material type in between the excitation antenna and the transponder (deposition process experiments).

The RF signal vs. the detection distance experiments demonstrate that the reading distance of the RFID system can be significantly increased by using a custom made excitation antenna. The custom made excitation antenna not only increases the reading distance between the antenna and the transponder to nearly 20 ft., but also allows the user to manipulate the excitation antenna's shape and size to meet the specific landscape requirements at the monitoring site.

Keywords

bridge scour, erosion/deposition, monitoring system, RFID, RF signal strength

Pages

xii, 116 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 107-116).

Copyright

Copyright 2012 Iordanis Vlasios Moustakidis

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