Wednesday, June 1, 7:00am - 8:00am
100 Nedderman Hall, UT Arlington campus


The Potentials of Underground
Freight Transportation

Mohammad Najafi, Ph.D., P.E., FASCE
Professor, Civil Engineering
Director, Center for Underground
Infrastructure Research and Education
University of Texas at Arlington

Anyone who has driven on I-35 toward Austin and San Antonio or I-45 toward Houston can vouch for the large amount of truck traffic on these routes. Along I-35, it's due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Mexico and Canada. Along I-45, it's because the Port of Houston is a first-ranked U.S. port in foreign tonnage. By 2030, the number of trucks carrying NAFTA goods will increase by an estimated 263 percent and the number of rail units will grow by 195 percent. In the Port of Houston, larger ships with higher capacities will arrive due to the expansion of the Panama Canal. It's unlikely the existing highway system can safely and economically handle these increases.

Professor Najafi thinks there's another, better way. He's investigating underground freight transportation, a class of unmanned systems in which capsules designed to carry standard shipping containers travel through pipelines between large freight terminals.

In this presentation, Dr. Najafi examines the feasibility of employing a variety of underground freight mobility technologies and the problems associated with selecting design components such as routes (using existing right-of-way of highways, especially of interstate highways), tunneling methods (open-cut and tunnel boring machine), the vehicles (capsules and gondolas), the conveyance system (tracks and power systems), and the terminal design and intermodal load transfer systems.

Mohammad Najafi earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University, an M.S. from Purdue University and a doctorate from Louisiana Tech University. He worked in the construction industry for more than 12 years before returning to Louisiana Tech to become the program manager of the university's Trenchless Technology Center. Professor Najafi then joined Michigan State University, serving as the director of its Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education before coming to UT Arlington in 2007. He is the author of three books, more than 100 papers, and several manuals on trenchless technology and pipeline design.

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