September 2022 Vol. 77 No. 9


Trenchless Technology Center Report: TTC Research Initiatives Booming

Dr. John Matthews |Trenchless Technology Center Director 

(UC) — The Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University is in the midst of the most active research year of its existence and its Industry Advisory Board (IAB), again, hit an all-time high in 2022. The TTC has recovered from the lull of the global pandemic in all aspects except in-person training, which is expected to bounce back this fall.

TTC ABS Training at BERT

In 2022, the TTC has again maintained its role as a leader in trenchless education and research and is increasing its impact in the areas of industry workforce development and training. The TTC continued its growth in the overall number of IAB members, even as we entered our 33rd year of existence. This lets us know there is much importance in our mission to the trenchless technology manufacturers, contractors, engineers and owners we serve. 

Research & development 

This year, the TTC continues to be very involved with its research contracts, at one time having more than 20 active funded projects. The majority continue to be funded by industry, although government-related projects at both the state and federal levels increased in 2022. 

The majority of TTC industry research also continues to be performed under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), meaning they cannot be publicized without client consent. Despite this fact, TTC researchers had a solid year of peer-reviewed publications and a few patent filings, as well. This is always an important metric for many research centers and associated faculty members and researchers. 

Currently, TTC has more than 15 active research projects underway, and approximately five that were completed during the past year. Studies continued to explore the potential impacts of CIPP emissions from steam-cured projects. 

Most recently, the team focused on examining the impact of different internal barrier coatings on the release of styrene while the liners are stored in the transport truck. Led by Dr. Shaurav Alam, TTC associate director for research, this study was performed for NASSCO. It will be published in late 2022 and will detail the breakthrough times of emissions by varying the coating materials and thicknesses on the uncured CIPP liners. 

Field validations are currently underway with transport trucks containing actual liners being transported to job sites to validate the lab-scale study. Additionally, TTC researchers led by Dr. Jason Howell have developed a styrene mitigation device that can be used during liner curing to eliminate virtually all styrene emissions from the exhaust stack. This device is expected to be fully commercialized by the end of 2022. 

TTC continued its internally funded work this year in the area of innovative materials, led by Dr. Alam. His team has been investigating numerous thrusts, including innovative cementitious materials for infrastructure components and coatings, as well as innovative curing of both construction materials and pipe lining materials. The findings are quite fascinating and have potentially widespread impacts for the construction industry. 

TTC Researcher Dr. Sudhir Amritphale has also been exploring various applications for innovative cementitious and geopolymer materials with exciting new benefits. The work recently resulted in a large (more than $1 million) project with the United States Air Force, focused on the application of these innovative solutions. 

TTC is also a thought leader in the area of non-destructive testing (NDT), obstacle detection and its application in a number of areas. This work is led by Dr. Arun Jaganathan, associate professor of civil engineering. For years, this work has been applied to solve problems related to in-pipe inspection, through wall defect detection and obstacle detection and avoidance. 

Most of the work is carried out completely in-house, from the theoretical modeling to design and prototyping of the solution. In fact, most of the modeling is written in unique code, not with commercially available software programs. This is a novel capability, even for a university research center, which enables TTC to share with its partners to help solve complex problems. 

Most of the TTC work in this area cannot be published due to NDAs and IP protections, but we are in year two of a three-year grant from NSF focused on surface wave analysis of RCPs. We are also in talks with various energy agencies to apply our expertise to oil and gas pipelines and power undergrounding challenges. 

Another continuing area is TTC’s work with various trenchless rehabilitation technology suppliers to further develop testing methods and protocols for innovative materials and designs. The most recent focus has, again, been on spray-in-place pipe (SIPP) materials for large-diameter pressure pipes and long-term validation of CIPP pressure pipe materials. TTC has also focused on evaluating installation loading for CIPP materials to improve productivity. 

TTC conducts many non-standardized tests due to the fact that many of the materials/methods in the trenchless industry are on the cutting edge of technology. Therefore, standard tests do not yet exist. Despite this fact, TTC has been able to meet ISO 17-025 standards and has the ability to add more tests to its accreditation in the future, if needed. 

One final research note, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC), which TTC is heavily involved with, along with LSU, is currently completing its first-year projects. 

Known as the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance (CISIA), the research focuses on a variety of structural integrity-related issues, including sensing, inspection, testing, analysis and prediction, which are strengths of both center sites for various industries. Currently CISIA has seven industry members (Aegion, Baker Hughes, Dow, Lockheed Martin, Meld, Mide/Hutchinson, and Shell) and is currently recruiting additional members and projects for year two. 

For more information about CISIA or any TTC research, please contact Dr. John Matthews at or Dr. Shaurav Alam at 

Industry advisory board (IAB) 

One of the biggest strengths of TTC remains its very active Industry Advisory Board (IAB), which has been in place since the center’s inception more than 32 years ago. 

TTC relies on the IAB for guidance on its activities and for financial support of the center and its research, which are key to the successful operation of its mission. IAB is a unique feature for a university research center that both helps to keep the staff focused on industry issues, while also providing workforce opportunities for many of the undergraduate and graduate students associated with the center. 

This year, TTC maintained an overall membership in the IAB of 65 members, breaking last years’ record number by nearly 10. The board is bolstered by more than 20 municipal/utility members who support TTC in multiple ways, including providing data for research and sites for field work, when needed. Member organizations are listed below by category. 

For more information on each IAB member organization and representative, please visit 

Manufacturers & Contractors: Aegion, AOC Resins, BRH-Garver, GeoTree, Interplastic, IPEX, PPG, PPM, Sanexen (Altra), and Visu-Sewer 

Municipal and Utility: Albany, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Bloomington, Minn.; Boston, Mass.; Caddo Levee, La.; Carencro, La.; Citizens Energy, Ind.; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Denver Water, Colo.; Haltom City, Texas; Houston, Texas; Hull, Mass.; Long Beach, Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Metro Wastewater Reclamation, Colo.; Metro Water Reclamation, Ill.; Monroe, La.; New York City, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; Ruston, La.; San Antonio, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Upper Trinity Regional Water, Texas; and Vancouver, Wash. 

Consultants: Carollo, Garver, GeoEngineers, Jacobs, Kleinfelder, Stantec and Subtegic 

Media: Underground Construction, Benjamin Media and Westrade 

Associations: LA CETF, NASSCO, & NUCA 

Honorary: Bob Affholder, Joe Barsoom, Mike Garver, Dr. Les Guice, Dr. Tom Iseley, Lynn Osborn, Kaleel Rahaim, Dr. Ray Sterling and Rick Turkopp 

TTC Sponsors: Applied Felts, CAP, InnerCure, Olson Construction Law, Thompson Pipe Group, Trinity, Valeron and Xylem 

Tom Wynne with the city of New York DDC continues to serve as the IAB Chairman and Ali Mustapha, P.E., executive director for the Caddo Level District in Shreveport, Lal, serves as vice chair. 

The Annual IAB Meeting will be held Nov. 16–17 in Ruston, La. If you are interested in learning more about the IAB or joining the board, please contact Dr. John Matthews at 

Educational initiatives 

Municipal Forums 

The TTC Municipal Forum Program consisted of all virtual forums this past year, due to the pandemic, and the modified program was again highly successful. Virtual Municipal Forums conducted from September 2021 through April 2022 covered broad topic areas, such as Machine Learning for Asset Management of Sewers, Pressure Pipe Cleaning, Evaluation and Lining, Pipe Tunneling, Digital Data for Water Asset Management, and Lead Pipe Services and Inventory. 

Sponsors and speakers for the Virtual Municipal Forums were from the following organizations: AECOM, Aegion, BlueConduit, BRH Garver, Evanco, Fracta, Hazen & Sawyer, Kleinfelder, PICA, RJN, SewerAI, Stantec, Thompson Pipe, Underground Construction magazine, Water Finance Research, Xylem, and the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC). 

If you would like access to any of the recorded forums to earn continuing education units (CEUs), please visit the TTC website or contact Dr. Matthews for more information. The lineup for fall 2022 and spring 2023 forums is still being developed, so if you are interested in hosting a forum, having specific topics included in a program, or would like to present at any of the forums, please contact Dr. Matthews at 

TTC conducts Auger Boring School 

TTC hosted its 4th Auger Boring School (ABS) in October of 2021 in Ruston, La. This specialty school was taught by the foremost experts in the industry and was attended by more than 30 contractors and engineers from across the country. 

TTC and NUCA are again teaming up to offer the four-day ABS Nov. 7–10, 2022, in Ruston. The field portion of the school will again be held at the Barbera Education and Research Training (BERT) facility and will include both traditional and pilot tube auger boring equipment. 

ABS is designed to meet the high demand for engineers and contractors needing training in auger boring design, application, and installation. The school includes classroom lectures and practical sessions. 

The next session will be sponsored by Trenchless Rental Solutions, Trinity Products, Barbco, U.S. Shoring & Equipment Co., Midwest Mole and others. The course will cover all aspects of auger boring projects, from design to construction, with a special focus on safety. 

TTC Honorary Member and Purdue Professor Dr. Iseley, will serve as one of the Course Directors, along with TTC Director, Dr. Matthews. For more information about the course, please contact Dr. Matthews at

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