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CSIC’s Mohammed Elshafie talks tunnel-lining technology at Underground Space Conference

last modified Apr 16, 2015 11:24 AM
Growing urban populations mean cities are under increasing pressure to function at levels beyond their design capacity. Innovative solutions to infrastructure planning and the challenges and benefits of creating underground space are currently the subject of much discussion and debate.
CSIC’s Mohammed Elshafie talks tunnel-lining technology at Underground Space Conference

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CSIC Co-Investigator Dr Mohammed Elshafie, Laing O’Rourke Lecturer in Construction Technology, was invited to speak on Innovating Infrastructure at the first Engineering Underground Space Conference, held at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, which presented case studies and strategies that demonstrate innovation, skills and best practice, helping delegates understand the technologies and techniques currently guiding industry.

Dr Elshafie explained how the use of fibre optic strain sensing technology in tunnel lining performance can provide valuable data to optimise future designs.

CSIC has deployed this technology at National Grid’s 32km power tunnel below London, in collaboration with Industry Partner Costain, and on the Crossrail Contract 310 from Plumstead to North Woolwich, with Hochtief. By incorporating fibre optics in  the concrete tunnel lining segments when they were cast in the factory, CSIC was able to collect novel data regarding the complex construction loading of the tunnel lining at all stages, including curing, transportation, tunnel construction and cross passage construction.

Dr Elshafie explained how emerging fibre optic strain sensing technology can be used to “unlock new insights into the performance of tunnel linings, both concrete segmental linings and sprayed concrete linings”. He said: “New information can be obtained in complex tunnelling scenarios, particularly cross passages, which will enable practitioners for the first time to compare and contrast new data against the design information to achieve improved designs.”

The conference, chaired by CSIC Head and ICE Vice President Professor Robert Mair, and the first in a series of ICE events taking place this year, provided a platform for professionals to explore the solutions and opportunities offered by underground space. Delegates included engineering and planning professionals from the UK and overseas.

Commenting on Dr Elshafie’s presentation, Professor Mair said: “The novel use of fibre optic sensors installed in precast concrete tunnel segments when they are cast in the factory provides a step-change in our understanding of all the forces experienced by the tunnel lining throughout its design life. This is also the case for sprayed concrete linings and cross-passage openings.”


A series of 10 ICE conferences and summits are taking place this year. These events will take the form of large-scale one or two-day events offering forums for robust debate among the civil engineering industry network.

To read more about the ICE Engineering Space Conference click here:

To read more about the series of ICE programme for 2015 click here: