Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Autar K. Kaw, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Glen H. Besterfield, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Muhammad M. Rahman, Ph.D.


bascule bridge, transient, thermal stress, nonhomogeneous material properties


To assemble the fulcrum of bascule bridges, a trunnion is immersed into liquid nitrogen so that it can be shrunk fit into the hub. This is followed by immersing the resulting trunnion-hub assembly into liquid nitrogen so that it can be then shrunk fit into the girder. On one occasion in Florida, when the trunnion-hub assembly was put into liquid nitrogen, development of cracks on the hub was observed. Experimental and numerical studies conducted since 1998 at University of South Florida show that the cracking took place due to combination of high interference stresses in the trunnion-hub assembly, low fracture toughness of steel at cryogenic temperatures, and steep temperature gradients due to sudden cooling.

In this study, we are studying the benefit of staged cooling to avoid cracking in the trunnion-hub assembly when it is cooled down for shrink fitting. We looked at three cooling processes - 1) Direct immersion into liquid nitrogen 2) Immersion into a refrigerated chamber, then liquid nitrogen 3) Immersion into a refrigerated chamber, then a dry-ice/alcohol bath, and finally liquid nitrogen.

The geometry of the trunnion-hub assembly was approximated by a composite made of two infinitely long hollows cylinders. The transient problem of temperature distribution and the resulting stresses was solved using finite difference method. Using critical crack lengths and Von-Mises stress as failure criteria, the three cooling processes were compared.

The study showed that the minimum critical crack length and stress ratio is increased by as much as 200% when cooling first in refrigerated air followed by liquid nitrogen. However, there is little benefit from adding dry-ice/alcohol as an intermediate step in the cooling process.