Acoustic monitoring is the go-to solution for locating a leak in a large urban pipe network, as the sounds from leaks are unique and travel far in water, but even this method struggles in complex systems. To tackle the problem, Pranav Agrawal and Sriram Narasimhan from UCLA developed algorithms that operate on acoustic signals collected via hydrophones mounted on fire hydrants. In doing so, the team can avoid costly excavation and reposition the devices as needed. Combined with novel probabilistic and machine-learning techniques to analyze the signals and pinpoint leaks, this technology could support water conservation efforts.
In Physics of Fluids, researchers have been studying the dynamics of how crescent-shaped sand dunes are formed. Known as barchans, these formations are commonly found in various sizes and circumstances, on Earth and on Mars. Using a computational fluid dynamics approach, the team carried out simulations by applying the equations of motion to each grain in a pile being deformed by a fluid flow, showing the ranges of values for the proper computation of barchan dunes down to the grain scale.
In APL Bioengineering, researchers have developed materials that can interface with an injured spinal cord and provide a scaffolding to facilitate healing. To do this, scaffolding materials need to mimic the natural spinal cord tissue, so they can be readily populated by native cells in the spinal cord, essentially filling in gaps left by injury. The researchers show how the pores improve efficiency of gene therapies administered locally to the injured tissues, which can further promote tissue regeneration.
Researchers from UCLA believe using plasma could promise a significant breakthrough in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. In Physics of Fluids, modeling conducted showed strains of the coronavirus on surfaces like metal, leather, and plastic were killed in as little as 30 seconds of treatment with argon-fed, cold atmospheric plasma. The researchers used an atmospheric pressure plasma jet they built with a 3D printer to spray surfaces that were treated with SARS-CoV-2 cultures.