Prof. Dr. E. Anderheggen
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Numerical modeling of rockfall protection systems

Rockfalls threaten roadways and railway lines in mountain regions. The goal of this KTI project is to develop special purpose application software based on advanced numerical procedures that is capable of simulating the highly dynamic mechanical response of rockfall protective structures. The software will enable engineers to develop new systems with less need for expensive and time-consuming prototyping.

The project investigates the rockfall protection systems of Fatzer AG that consist of flexible ring nets supported by cables and steel columns which are easy to install and maintain. They are designed to absorb the rock's kinetic energy within a specific distance by means of flexible components that stop a falling rock gently with a long braking distance. This results in a time distribution of the brake force and therefore in a peak-load reduction of all system components.

In a first KTI project the ring components of the nets were experimentally investigated. Now, full-scale rockfall experiments will be carried out in a quarry in Walenstadt SG in order to validate the numerical methods. Rocks of up to 2.4 tons will be dropped from heights of over 30m. The deceleration of the rock in the net will be measured over time. In addition, the dynamic forces in many of the system components will be measured.

These field tests will be used to validate the new finite element procedures. Based on the finite element method these are to take into account dynamic effects, large deformations, material nonlinearities, contact conditions and friction.


Prof. Dr. Edoardo Anderheggen (Guidance)
Dr. Perry Bartelt (Guidance)
Dr. Axel Volkwein


SLF, Davos
Fatzer AG Geobrugg, Romanshorn


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