Center for Sustainable Engineering of Geological and Infrastructure Materials

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Our center will take advantage of state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities available at Northwestern University.

Northwestern University Supercomputing System

      The original computational portion of Quest consists of 504 diskless IBM iDataplex nodes, with 2.4 GHz Intel Nehalem Quad Core Xeon processors (2 per node) for a total of 4032 cores. Each blade has 48GB of DDR3 memory and is connected through a DDR infiniband network and gigabit management network. In December 2010, Quest expansion went online adding 252 nodes with 2.66 GHz Intel Westmere Hexacore Xeon processors (2 per node) for a total of 3024 new cores. These nodes have 48GB of DDR3 memory and the interconnect is upgraded to QDR Infiniband with a gigabit management network. Of the expansion nodes, there are 126 that have a 1 TB disk mounted on /tmp to use for local storage. Quest is directly connected to 160TB of data intensive computing storage, referred to as Vault High Performance Research Computing, which is provided to research user groups through an allocation process. Additional storage, not directly connected, allows University researchers to upload, store, and share large research related documents with colleagues via a Web link or URL. Ranked among the TOP500 list of the fastest computers world wide, Quest's current architecture includes:

  • Vendor: IBM iDataPlex
  • Parallel File system: IBM GPFS
  • DDN DCS 9900 storage system: 100 TB available for projects on Quest
  • Interconnect: Infiniband DDR
  • Number of Nodes: 504 (4032 cores) 8 cores/node
  • Processor: Intel Nehalem E5520, 64-bit, 8M Cache, 2.26 GHz, 5.86 GT/s Intel® QPI, 1066Mhz FSB
  • Memory: Per node (Per Core) 48GB's (6GB's), Type: DDR3
  • Interconnect: Infiniband QDR
  • Number of Nodes: 252 (3024 cores) 12 cores/node
  • Processor: Intel Westmere X5650, 64-bit, 12MB Cache, 2.66 Ghz, 6.4 GT/s Intel® QPI, 1333Mhz FSB
  • Memory: Per node (Per Core) 48GB's (6GB's), Type: QDR

Structural Engineering and Infrastructure Materials (SEIM) Laboratory

      The SEIM Laboratory has a more than three decade long record of exemplary research in concrete and is equipped to handle all challenges associated with testing rheological and mechanical properties. Specimens can be cured in a 100% humidity curing room, and two Hotpack walk-in environmental chambers are available for investigations which require accurately controlled temperature and humidity conditions. A precisely controllable Polyscience water bath for small scale investigations and a GS Blue M Electric Batch Oven with a capacity of 8 ft³ temperatures of up to 750 °F complement the equipment. Testing and sensor equipment encompasses all standard instruments and setups that are necessary to investigate concrete rheology such as a HAAKE Rheostress150 rheometer with concentric cylinder geometry. Three state of the art MTS closed-loop servo-hydraulic load frames with capacities between 20 kips (89 kN) and a 1 million pound (4.5 MN) provide optimized testing conditions for a wide range of experiments. A multitude of additional load cells of various capacities as well as extensometers and LVDTs of various travel complement an effective testing facility. Additional data acquisition systems, such as the state of the art 24 bit HBM system quantumX, are available for specialized investigations. Full field data acquisition is added by a CorrelatedSolutions VIC-2D digital image correlation system that can also serve as video extensometer.


Hotpack Environmental Chambers feature corrosion resistant 304 stainless steel construction, chromium heating elements and fireproof, non-hygroscopic glass wool insulation which is impervious to corrosive vapours and fumes. Microprocessor controls with LED digital readouts enable efficient control of precise temperature and humidity conditions.

wei SEIM Laboratory is equipped with three universal testing machines and a closed-loop MTS hydraulic system. These machines/systems are used for testing a variety of construction materials and assemblies under both pseudo-static and dynamic loading. Complementing these equipments is a series of digital and analog instruments, and high-speed data acquisition and control systems.

GS Blue M Electric Batch Oven with a chamber space of 8 ft³ can be thermostatically controlled up to 750 °F to dry, cure, or anneal a variety of substrates and coatings. The oven has electric temperature controls, a batch timer with alarm, an easy-to-use control panel, and a set of sturdy hinged doors on one end.


In order for mortar and concrete to achieve optimum strength, it must be cured in the presence of water. This room maintains 100% relative humidity and a constant temperature for optimum curing.


• The bandsaw is useful for cutting specimens to size and roughing out shapes. It contains a serrated blade that forms one continuous loop. The blade is stretched over two pulleys, the upper one idle, the lower one driven by a variable speed electric motor.