Image of NRFIS. Courtesy of Grimshaw Architects.
The National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing (NRFIS), which will be located in the Civil Engineering building at Cambridge's new Engineering campus, is part of the UKCRIC programme. NRFIS will focus on the development, testing and deployment of sensors for infrastructure. This interdisciplinary hub will work across a range of length scales, from nanoscale sensor development to multi-metre full-scale testing of large components. A particular focus will be on the practical deployment of sensors in physical infrastructure, with the Facility housing a highly-skilled deployment team and providing training for industry and researchers. Construction of the NRFIS facility is planned to begin by the end of 2017 and is expected to be completed by Spring 2019.
The research undertaken at these new facilities will help to understand how the nation's infrastructure can be more resilient to extreme events, adaptable to changing circumstances, and how it can provide services that are more affordable, accessible and useable for the whole population.
Initial partners in UKCRIC represent 14 of the major university-based infrastructure, civil and construction engineering research groups in the UK. UKCRIC provides a unique opportunity for the universities to coordinate on best practice, share data and lessons learned, as well as providing a focus for industrial engagement. It will help to develop a commercial resource with a considerable export potential.
Summaries of the new facilities:
National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing (EP/P013848/1)
Located in the Civil Engineering building at Cambridge's new Engineering campus, the facility will focus on the development, testing and deployment of sensors for infrastructure. This interdisciplinary hub will work across a range of length scales, from nanoscale sensor development to multi-metre full-scale testing of large components. A particular focus will be on the practical deployment of sensors in physical infrastructure, with the facility housing a highly-skilled deployment team and providing training for industry and researchers.
Led by: Professor Simon Guest, University of Cambridge
EPSRC grant: £18,000,000
Total capital cost: £22,500,000
Buried Infrastructure Lab (EP/P013635/1)
This soil-structure interaction laboratory will test fully-instrumented buried pipes, culverts and other structures at full-scale and larger, deeper structures such as shallow tunnels and barrier walls, at near full-scale. Research will also be conducted into air-flow in tunnels focusing on air pollution, pressure transients and sonic booms.
Led by: Professor Chris Rogers, University of Birmingham
EPSRC grant: £21,600,000
Total capital cost: £27,600,000
Linear Infrastructure Lab (EP/P013627/1)
A major new building will house double and single-height laboratories for the testing of large-scale structures, components and materials at a range of scales and under a range of environmental conditions and temperatures, with a major focus on transport infrastructure, particularly rail. The new building will also feature an advanced geomechanics laboratory with scaled and full-scale physical testing capabilities.
Led by: Professor David Richards, University of Southampton
EPSRC grant: £26,000,000
Total capital cost: £36,000,000
National Centre for Infrastructure Materials (EP/P017622/1, EP/P017169/1, EP/P017061/1)
Laboratories at three universities will be refurbished to form a networked facility for underpinning materials research: the Advanced Infrastructure Materials (AIM) Lab at Imperial College London will focus on producing, processing, imaging, analysing and testing infrastructure materials; the Facility for Infrastructure Materials Durability at the University of Leeds will host a field exposure site and facilities to study materials ageing from the nano- to the macro scale, plus facilities for infrastructure robotics and geo-energy; and the Fire and Impact Laboratory for Resilient Infrastructure Materials at the University of Manchester will feature critical loading and characterisation facilities to enable physical testing of infrastructure materials under realistic fire and impact loading conditions.
Led by: Professor Nick Buenfeld, Imperial College London; Dr Leon Black, University of Leeds; Professor Yong Wang, University of Manchester
EPSRC grant: £16,600,000
Total capital cost: £19,400,000
National Foundation-Structure Interaction Lab (EP/P01920X/1)
The laboratory will conduct experiments on large to full-scale examples of bridge supports, building foundations, retaining walls, embankments, and similar problems where earth interacts with structures. The unique facility will allow a wide range of static, vibration and earthquake-like loads to be applied. Modules will be transportable to other sites, allowing for in situ testing of actual structures. The facility will enable important industry problems to be answered that cannot be resolved by conventional, smaller sized experiments.
Led by: Professor Colin Taylor, University of Bristol
EPSRC grant: £9,600,000
Total capital cost: £12,200,000
National Urban Water Infrastructure Facility (EP/P017460/1, EP/P016707/1, EP/P016863/1)
Existing laboratories will be extended to create the Urban Water Hub at Cranfield University, which will support research into urban water infrastructure and assets; the National Urban Water Laboratory, a dedicated experimental facility at the Science Central site in the heart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will house urban transport, urban energy and urban ICT infrastructure facilities as well as the Newcastle Urban Observatory; and the Distributed Water Infrastructure Laboratory at the University of Sheffield will feature a containment chamber incorporating facilities to construct and test at full scale infrastructure such as water pipes and sewer pipes/chambers.
Led by: Professor Paul Jeffrey, Cranfield University; Professor Richard Dawson, Newcastle University; Professor Simon Tait, University of Sheffield
EPSRC grant: £20,700,000
Total capital cost: £81,400,000
Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL) (EP/P018629/1)
This new facility will feature test rigs at 1:1 scale for the study of human interactions with infrastructure, such as tube trains, stations, airports, and urban environments in controlled conditions.
Led by: Professor Nick Tyler, UCL
EPSRC grant: £9,000,000
Total capital cost: £14,000,000 plus building costs