Designing a "smart pebble" for sediment transport monitoring.

Manousos Valyrakis, Athanasios Alexakis, Edgars Pavlovskis

Monday 29 june 2015

17:42 - 17:45h at Africa (level 0)

Themes: (T) Water engineering, (ST) Experimental facilities and instrumentation, Poster pitches

Parallel session: Poster pitch: 3F. Engineering - Instrument

Sediment transport, due to primarily the action of water, wind and ice, is one of the most significant geomorphic processes responsible for shaping Earth’s surface. It involves entrainment of sediment grains in rivers and estuaries due to the violently fluctuating hydrodynamic forces near the bed. Here an instrumented particle, namely a “smart pebble", is developed to investigate the exact flow conditions under which individual grains may be entrained from the surface of a gravel bed. This could lead in developing a better understanding of the processes involved, focusing on the response of the particle during a variety of flow entrainment events. The “smart pebble" is a particle instrumented with MEMS sensors appropriate for capturing the hydrodynamic forces a coarse particle might experience during its entrainment from the riverbed. A 3-axial gyroscope and accelerometer registers data to a memory card via a microcontroller, embedded in a 3D-printed waterproof hollow spherical particle. The instrumented board is appropriately fit and centered into the shell of the pebble, so as to achieve a nearly uniform distribution of the mass which could otherwise bias its motion. The “smart pebble" is powered by an independent power to ensure autonomy and sufficiently long periods of operation appropriate for deployment in the field. Post-processing and analysis of the acquired data is currently performed offline, using scientific programming software. The performance of the instrumented particle is validated, conducting a series of calibration experiments under well-controlled laboratory conditions.