Research Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Civil Engineering
Sustainable and Resilient Civil Engineering

Research Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Civil Engineering

The Centre consists of experts in structure, geotechnics and hydrodynamics, dedicated to enhancing the resilience and sustainability of infrastructures and civil engineering systems.

The Centre was established in 2020 by merging three existing research centres in Civil Engineering Structure, Multi-Scale Geotechnical Engineering and Fluid-Structure interaction. We focus on the analysis of different complex and/or special engineering structures: long-span bridges, tall buildings, nuclear structures, offshore oil/gas structure system and structures for marine renewable energy. We explore novel solutions to geotechnical problems by linking micro-mechanics to the macro response. We aim to address some grand challenges associated with fluid-structure interaction in bio-mechanics, aeronautical, civil and marine engineering.

About the Centre

Our Vision

To lead research internationally in developing multi-physics, multi-scale and multi-model solutions using integrated analytical, computational and experimental approaches with the support of AI and data science for (1) enhancing resilience of  infrastructure networks and of complex civil engineering systems, including underground & foundation, coastal & offshore systems, to natural and man-made hazards; (2) improving sustainability in design, construction, operation and decommissioning (where appropriate) of urban infrastructure and civil engineering systems; and (3) facilitating a net-zero economy through developing innovative energy storage & generation systems, e.g.  energy storage foundations, and by improving the reliability and survivability of offshore renewable energy systems.

Objectives

  • To develop paradigms of adaptable slender structures (tall buildings, long-span bridges, offshore platforms) to external dynamic loads in multi-hazard environments and to users’ requirements by equipping them with lightweight passive adaptive and semi-active vibration control devices.
  • To device cost-effective monitoring solutions of large-scale civil engineering structures relying on low-power wireless sensors and on computationally efficient system identification approaches for design verification, condition assessment, damage detection, and digital twins development.
  • To innovate uncertainty-informed performance-based seismic design and assessment approaches for dependable prediction of earthquake loss as well as for pre- and post-earthquake decision making, for seismic risk mitigation and enhancement of resilience in well-populated areas and infrastructure networks.
  • To design and experimentally verify new high-performance nano-engineered fibre reinforced concrete materials with self-sensing capabilities and enhanced resistance to thermal and impact/blast loads for next-generation nuclear structures.
  • To develop multi-scale (from micro- to macro-, from short term to long term) geotechnics with applications to sustainable urban infrastructures and foundation systems.
  • To develop multi-physics and multi-scale fluid-structure-soil interaction simulation tools, addressing design challenges in the marine, coastal and offshore industries, especially the emerging offshore renewable energy sector and conventional coast protection sector.

Expertise, capabilities and interests

  • To develop conceptually, analytically, and experimentally novel regenerative dampers harvesting renewable energy from wind and traffic induced structural vibrations to achieve energy autonomous distributed low-power wireless sensors for building automation and structural health monitoring in structures lifetime.
  • To devise novel optimisation-based design protocols for minimal weight slender structures equipped with lightweight inerter-based vibration control devices in high-wind and/or high seismicity areas minimising up-front and operational carbon emissions.
  • To develop sustainable (low carbon, low raw material) underground and foundation system; to develop techniques and guideline for use of waste materials for geotechnical use.
  • To develop and provide solutions for mobility impaired persons access to urban mass transit systems through the development of understanding of how new and existing buried infrastructure interact in a crowded subsurface environment.
  • To derive, quantify and verify multi-scale long-term models with applications in geotechnical events.
  • To derive data driven approaches for environmental (wind, wave, current etc) statistics, providing realistic environmental conditions securing reliable civil engineering system design.
  • To develop multi-physics and multi-scale fluid-structure interaction simulation tools for evaluating the reliability and survivability of individual floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) system and FOWT array/farm implicitly coupling the hydro-, aero-dynamics, soil and mooring dynamics.

Facilities

Geotechnics Laboratory

Purpose-built laboratory housing a recently refurbished Acutronic 661, 40 g-tonne, geotechnical centrifuge with state of the art instrumentation, image capture, and hydraulic, electrical and optical slip rings.

The centrifuge facility is operated by a highly experienced team of researchers using actuators, motors and syringe pumps to carefully simulate geotechnical events in flight. It is accompanied by space for model preparation, including consolidation presses to create clay soil beds for testing and additional loading frames for 1g testing.

Element testing laboratory containing automated stress path triaxial apparatus, shear box apparatus, a Bishop ring shear apparatus and a high pressure triaxial cell. This facility also provides space for classification tests and a range of customised tests investigating soil slurries, bentonite and the effect of adding polymer.

Heavy Structures Laboratory

  • £800,000 investment in equipment for education and research
  • Servo-controlled concrete testing including FRC post-peak
  • HPC, VHPC & UHPC concrete mixing in large volumes for research with moisture monitoring for repeatable mixing
  • High flow computer-controlled hydraulic loading for static, cyclic and dynamic & hybrid testing with ring-main (2014/5)
  • Loading frames including strong-wall for lateral loading of tall structures.

Research Projects

New Generation Modelling Suite for the Survivability of Wave Energy Convertors in Marine Environments (WavE-Suite)

EPSRC EP/V040235/1PI: Prof Qingwei Ma; Co-I: Dr Shiqiang Yan

Although there is a long history of research of wave energy convertors (WECs), there are still many challenges that make it difficult to develop effective, reliable and economically viable WECs. One of the challenges is the lack of robust modelling tools to assess survivability of WECs under extreme marine environments that cause extreme loads and large responses. Survivability of WECs needs to be concerned not only in the design stage but also when operational to maximise the amount of harnessed energy and minimise the risk of damage. To assess and analyse the survivability of WECs, one must identify survival conditions, quantify loadings and responses of WECs and characterise the pressure and velocity field of WECs under survival conditions. Identification of survival conditions for WECs requires not only the consideration of severe storms but also of loads and responses of WECs in shorter steep seas, which is different from that for other offshore structures that may just need to consider severe storms giving the largest wave heights. High precision quantification of loadings and responses of WECs must consider wave breaking and viscosity, which will provide dominate factors for conceptual design and to determine if the device needs to be shut down. Characterisation of the pressure and velocity fields of WECs needs to resolve two-phase flow with vortex structures to sufficient detail, which will provide information for structural and components design. In addition, as the waves in the survival conditions are highly nonlinear, they must be simulated for a long propagating duration in a large domain to allow them to sufficiently evolve. Therefore, the numerical modelling tools for analysing WEC survivability should have the capability of dealing with breaking waves and two-phase flow and accurately estimating the effect of viscosity in turbulent states. In the meantime, the tools must be fast enough so that engineers can simulate the cases within practical time-scales for design.

Many numerical models with various levels of accuracy and efficiency exist, but none of them can adequately deal with the extreme conditions found in practice. Some models are phase-averaged, being computationally efficient but not sufficiently accurate. Some models are phased-resolved, based either on the potential theory or the viscous theory. The most advanced potential models are fully nonlinear and much faster than viscous models, but could not deal with wave breaking and turbulence which always occurs for WECs. The viscous models can theoretically deal with the physical phenomena but are generally very computationally expensive, perhaps also suffering from unwanted numerical dissipation. This project will develop a novel numerical modelling suite by combining different models and by proposing new numerical approaches and machine learning techniques, which will be more accurate and require less computational effort. The modelling suite will be able to automatically go up to fully nonlinear simulations and down to linear simulations depending on the level of nonlinearity of waves and their interaction with the WECs. The new modelling suite will be validated by data measured from WEC models in the laboratory and real devices at sea, and will be applied to assess the parameters relevant to the survivability and reliability of WECs.

During the project, an advisory board will be set up to give the suggestions on specific research topics, and regular project meetings/workshops will be held to attract the interests of WECs stakeholders and disseminate the research outcomes. Our project partners will be invited to be a member of the advisory board and to attend or contribute to the meetings/workshops. Databases for different types of WECs will be created during this project, which will be accessible by general public.

Mooring analysis and design for offshore WEC survivability and fatigue (MoorWEC)

EPSRC EP/V039946/1 Investigators: Prof Qingwei Ma, Dr Shiqiang Yan

Wave energy globally has potential average power slightly less than wind but this has been unexploited to date. We are concerned here with wave energy converters (WECs) offshore, before the energy resource is reduced by shallow-water effects, which would be suitable for grid scale electricity generation. Individual WEC capacity has been considered to be much smaller than for wind turbines and cost of energy (COE) considerably larger. However, with multi-mode, multi-float systems, capacity may be similar to or greater than wind in some locations and COE has been estimated to be similar to offshore wind. Survivability in extreme waves needs to be established, along with reliability of components. The mooring is the most vulnerable structural component of an offshore wave energy converter. Snap loads are a particular problem in extreme waves, and also in intermediate waves affecting fatigue. There is a widespread consensus in the wave energy community that mooring system design and modelling is a major challenge that needs to be overcome. Although literature and design guidelines for conventional ocean engineering applications are abundant, in general they do not account for the requirements of wave energy conversion, where the mooring should not inhibit platform motion causing the energy generation. Design, optimization, and assessment of mooring systems require efficient hydrodynamic and dynamic mooring models, which should be fully coupled to represent all interactions. There are various mooring options: catenary slack moored, elastic taut moored, combinations with single point (buoy) moorings, and nylon/polyester ropes offer an economic option while reducing snap loads. While some progress has been made with nonlinear hydrodynamic WEC loading models for point absorbers, an efficient general nonlinear hydrodynamic loading model for multi-bodies, accounting for wave breaking, is presently not available. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations require days, even weeks, to run on multiple processors and is unreliable for complex dynamic problems. The intention here is generalise efficient linear hydrodynamic load models by including the fully nonlinear force component due to the pressure field in the waves, known as the Froude-Krylov force. This has improved predictions of response and mooring load, markedly in some cases. This will be advanced through comparison with experimental wave basin tests and formally generalised through system identification, for single and multi-bodies with a range of mooring configurations in representative, generally multi-directional wave fields and currents. The convenient simplification of linear wave input will also be assessed with a revised force formulation determined by system identification. These force formulations will be coupled with the general industry-standard mooring model Orcaflex accounting for dynamic and material properties enabling design optimization using multi-objective genetic algorithms. This will enable survivability, fatigue and reliability analyses.

Extreme Loading on FOWT under Complex Environmental Conditions

EPSRC EP/T00424X/1 PI: Dr Shiqiang Yan; Co-I: Prof Qingwei Ma

The offshore wind industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, and continues to expand both in the UK and worldwide. Most of the offshore wind turbines installed to date are located in relatively shallow water and are mounted on fixed bottom support structures. Given the limitation of suitable shallow water sites available with high wind resources and also to reduce the environmental and visual impact of turbines, it is necessary to extend wind turbines to deeper water through the development of floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) systems, which mount wind turbines on floating support platforms.

The project aims to fill an important gap in the design, manufacturing and testing of emerging FOWT techniques by specifically characterising extreme loading on FOWTs under complex and harsh marine environments. These are typically represented by storm conditions consisting of strong wind, extreme waves, significant current, rising sea level and complex interplay between these elements, through a coordinated campaign of both advanced CFD modelling and physical wave tank tests. This has direct relevance to the current and planned activities in the UK to develop this new technology in offshore wind.

In addition, the project aims to develop a suite of hierarchical numerical models that can be applied routinely for both fast and detailed analysis of the specific flow problem of environmental (wind, wave, current) loading and dynamic responses of FOWTs under realistic storm conditions.  As an integral part of the project, a new experimental programme will be devised and conducted in the COAST laboratory at the University of Plymouth, providing improved understanding of the underlying physics and for validating the numerical models. Towards the end of the project, fully documented CFD software and experimental data sets will be released to relevant industrial users and into the Public Domain, so that they may be used to aid the design of future support structures of FOWTs and to secure their survivability with an extended envelope of safe operation for maximum power output.

CCP-WSI+   Collaborative Computational Project on Wave Structure Interaction +

EPSRC EP/T026782/1 Investigators: Prof Qingwei Ma, Dr Shiqiang Yan

The proposed new CCP-WSI+ builds on the impact generated by the Collaborative Computational Project in Wave Structure Interaction (CCP-WSI) and extends it to connect together previously separate communities in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and computational structural mechanics (CSM). The new CCP-WSI+ collaboration builds on the NWT, will accelerate the development of Fully Coupled Wave Structure Interaction (FCWSI) modelling suitable for dealing with the latest challenges in offshore and coastal engineering.

Since being established in 2015, CCP-WSI has provided strategic leadership for the WSI community, and has been successful in generating impact in: Strategy setting, Contributions to knowledge, and Strategic software development and support. The existing CCP-WSI network has identified priorities for WSI code development through industry focus group workshops; it has advanced understanding of the applicability and reliability of WSI through an internationally recognised Blind Test series; and supported collaborative code development.

Acceleration of the offshore renewable energy sector and protection of coastal communities are strategic priorities for the UK and involve complex WSI challenges. Designers need computational tools that can deal with complex environmental load conditions and complex structures with confidence in their reliability and appropriate use. Computational tools are essential for design and assessment within these priority areas and there is a need for continued support of their development, appropriate utilisation and implementation to take advantage of recent advances in HPC architecture.

Both the CFD and CSM communities have similar challenges in needing computationally efficient code development suitable for simulations of design cases of greater and greater complexity and scale. Many different codes are available commercially and are developed in academia, but there remains considerable uncertainty in the reliability of their use in different applications and of independent qualitative measures of the quality of a simulation.

One of the novelties of this CCP is that in addition to considering the interface between fluids and structures from a computational perspective, we propose to bring together the two UK expert communities who are leading developments in those respective fields. The motivation is to develop FCWSI software, which couples the best in class CFD tools with the most recent innovations in computational solid mechanics. Due to the complexity of both fields, this would not be achievable without interdisciplinary collaboration and co-design of FCWSI software.

The CCP-WSI+ will bring the CFD and CSM communities together through a series of networking events and industry workshops designed to share good practice and exchange advances across disciplines and to develop the roadmap for the next generation of FCWSI tools. Training and workshops will support the co-creation of code coupling methodologies and libraries to support the range of CFD codes used in an open source environment for community use and to aid parallel implementation. The CCP-WSI+ will carry out a software audit on WSI codes and the data repository and website will be extended and enhanced with database visualisation and archiving to allow for contributions from the expanded community. Code developments will be supported through provision and management of the code repository, user support and training in software engineering and best practice for coupling and parallelisation.

By bringing together two communities of researchers who are independently investigating new computational methods for fluids and structures, we believe we will be able to co-design the next generation of FCWSI tools with realism both in the flow physics and the structural response, and in this way, will unlock new complex applications in ocean and coastal engineering

A CCP on Wave/Structure Interaction: CCP-WSI

EPSRC EP/M022382/1 Investigators: Prof Qingwei Ma, Dr Shiqiang Yan

The proposal is to establish a new Collaborative Computational Project (CCP) serving the UK re-search community in the area of wave structure interactions (WSI). The new CCP-WSI will bring together computational scientists, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) specialists and experimentalists to develop a UK national numerical wave tank (NWT) facility fully complementary to existing and future UK experimental laboratory facilities for marine, coastal offshore engineering and thus support leading-edge research in an area of high national importance. Substantial progress has been made on a number of past and current EPSRC project grants held by the lead partners in this CCP bid to develop and test the primary elements of a numerical wave tank and to carry out cutting edge wave impact experiments alongside new opensource CFD code development. We believe it is timely to focus the activities of the community on the development of opensource NWT code held within a central code repository (CCPForge). The code will be professionally software engineered and maintainable, tested and validated against measurement data provided by the partner experimentalists, whilst remaining sufficient flexibility to meet the requirements of all members of the WSI community. This model for sharing developments collaboratively within a consortium of partners within a central code repository that is sustainably managed for the future has been developed by the lead partners in related EPSRC funded research projects. The proposed CCP-WSI would extend the framework and methodology for sharing and future proofing EPSRC funded code developments in wave structure interaction to the wider community. This is proposed through a programme of community events and activities which are designed to foster the links between experimentalists and those performing computations, between industry users, academics and the interested public.

Structural health monitoring via wireless sensor networks using compressive sensing data acquisition techniques

EPSRC funded project


Vibration control and energy harvesting from wind/wave/earthquake-excited structures using the novel lightweight tuned mass-damper-inerter (TDMI) device

EPSRC-funded project


Lightweight tuned mass-damper-interter (TMDI) device

Multi-scale analysis of nuclear structures

Comprehensive framework that utilises multi-scale modelling, high-performance materials and innovative sensing systems for sustainable design and multi-hazard risk mitigation.

Research supported through the Royal Academy of Engineering / Pell Frischmann Chair to City, University of London

Smart wind-barriers for traffic and bridge protection

Project funded by the Department for Transport through T-TRIG. PI: Dr Alfredo Camara, Co-I: Dr Chetan Jagadeesh. Project partners: Highways England and Connect Plus Services.

The project aims at developing a cost-effective wind shielding that adapts to the existing weather conditions in order to maximise the protection to the vehicles while reducing the forces transmitted to the structure, making this solution ideal to extend the traffic operability in new and existing bridges.
Download the public report here.

Potential PhD projects

For more information on how to apply for a Research degree at City, University of London please visit our PhD Civil Engineering course page.

Behaviour of Nano-Engineered Concrete under Thermal Loads (Prof A Ayoub)

Nano-engineered concrete has emerged as an efficient multifunctional construction material that can offer many advantages such as higher strength and stiffness, enhanced ductility, and self health monitoring. The behaviour of such material under thermal loads is still not well understood. The project will aim at evaluating the performance of nano-engineered concrete structures under elevated temperature using experimental and multi-scale analytical techniques

Development of sub-Nyquist data sampling and processing approaches for vibration-based structural health monitoring using wireless sensors (Dr A Giaralis)

Vibration-based structural health monitoring (V-SHM) techniques are widely used for design verification, condition assessment, and damage detection of large-scale civil engineering structures. V-SHM involves the sampling and post-processing of response acceleration signals from vibrating structures excited by environmental dynamic loads such as those due to wind, traffic, sea-waves, and earthquakes. This project builds on recent mathematical and algorithmic developments, achieved through an EPSRC funded proposal, to enable cost-efficient V-SHM by acquiring acceleration measurements at sampling rates significantly below the Nyquist rate. This consideration supports the use of wireless sensor (WSs) for V-SHM having low energy consumption and improved wireless data transmission reliability. The project involves multi-disciplinary analytical and computational work to extend the range of applicability of the current sub-Nyquist V-SHM techniques to challenging scenarios including the case of non-stationary acceleration response signals encountered in the monitoring of wind turbines and the case of earthquake-induced damage detection and characterization. Excellent knowledge of MATLAB and of finite element software are required as well as a solid background on structural dynamics which will extend to sparse signal acquisition, modelling, and processing techniques.

Passive adaptive vibration control of civil engineering structures using inertial and regenerative devices (Dr A Giaralis)

This project is the continuation of an EPSRC funded proposal to enable smart, lightweight, and sustainable civil engineering structures, such as tall buildings and long-span (foot-)bridges, through the consideration of inertial and regenerative devices with varying properties to meet serviceability limit state requirements. These requirements govern the design of modern slender structures which have become ever more susceptible to excessive vibrations due to dynamic loads caused by the action of wind and traffic. The project considers coupling inertial dampers, such as the tuned mass-damper-inerter (TMDI) with energy harvesting enabled electromechanical motors in novel topologies to achieve simultaneous vibration suppression and power generation in slender structures subject to operational loads. The project involves multi-disciplinary analytical and computational work to advance the current state-of-art by integrating the above devices into performance-based structural design allowing for varying the overall structural properties based on the anticipated level and nature of the external loads as well as based on the sought structural performance. Excellent knowledge of MATLAB and of finite element software are required as well as a solid background on structural dynamics which will extend to electromechanical coupling and control.

Back propping of reinforced concrete structures during construction (Dr B McKinley)

Working under the newly formed Centre of Excellence in Temporary Works and Construction Method Engineering sponsored by the Temporary Works Forum, the project is aimed at determining the true distribution of load during construction when backprops are used to provide temporary support to reinforced concrete structures. Current guidance is understood to be conservative and more accurate and applicable measurement of loads in backprops, along with improved understanding of the behaviour of the structure, is required to better inform industry.

Structural performance assessment using data from sensors (Dr T Micic)

Many structures, such as bridges, buildings, towers and masts are critical for the society so it is important to take advantage of new technologies to ensure that they are safe. This project will develop modern application to include disparate sources of information about existing structures such as sensors, non-destructive testing, measurements, etc. to quantify structural performance.

Multi-hazard analysis of prestressed concrete containment vessels for nuclear power plants (Dr A Camara)

Nuclear power plants are of crucial importance to the national energy management, economy and safety. In particular, containment vessels represent a vital part of these infrastructures as they are the ultimate barrier to prevent leakage from the reactor in case of an accident. The failure of one of these vessels would pose an immense risk to society and yet the current analysis methods routinely ignore possible degradation and ageing effects in the concrete and the steel. Understanding the long-term response of containment vessels under extreme conditions such as strong ground motions and the loss of coolant is essential. The goal of this research is to develop a multi-hazard analysis framework in which the eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) will be used to describe crack patterns in the concrete and nonlinear static and dynamic analyses will be conducted to obtain recommendations for the safe design of containment vessels. The successful PhD candidate in this project should have experience in Finite Element modelling and a solid background in structural dynamics and prestressed concrete design.

Optimum seismic design of reinforced concrete buildings (Dr P Mergos)

Structural optimisation techniques are widely used in routine design of aeronautical, mechanical and naval structural systems. In routine civil engineering practice, however, optimum structural design is pursued either with the aid of the designer’s experience or a manual trial-and-error process. For complex problems, these approaches are often inadequate and drive to uneconomical designs. This research will develop a novel, automated framework for the optimum design of reinforced concrete buildings in earthquake prone regions that maximises resilience and sustainability of these structural systems.

Loading protocols for seismic testing of structures (Dr P Mergos)

Safe structural design requires that demands in terms of forces and deformations remain below respective structural capacities. Often, structural capacities cannot be determined by numerical methods and experimental testing is required. For structures subjected to cyclic loads, such as the ones imposed by earthquakes, quasi-static cyclic tests are typically employed, where test specimens are subjected to predefined force and/or deformation histories of demands, named loading protocols.

In many cases, existing loading protocols are not representative of anticipated seismic demands and thereby may either underestimate structural capacities leading to uneconomical designs or overestimate capacities driving to catastrophic failures. This research aims at developing loading protocols that reflect accurately seismic demands of various structural systems (e.g. reinforced concrete, masonry and timber buildings) in order to produce realistic estimates of their structural capacities.

Improving access to underground space (Dr S Divall)

The development of urban infrastructure often requires complex engineering solutions to access an underground space. These structures often can take the form of concourse tunnels, passageways, shafts and launch portals which are often erected in areas where space is limited. The construction processes involved in the creation of these structures often have a reasonably high level of uncertainty attached due to the complex soil to structure interaction taking place. City, University of London’s geotechnical centrifuge facility allows for these construction processes to be investigated using well-controlled physical modelling techniques. Model scale observations can be advantages in understanding the uncertainties at the prototype scale.

Multi-scale multi-model simulations of FSI in marine engineering (Prof Ma and Dr Yan)

This is an area which can cover many projects. In terms of methodology, the numerical methods based on fully nonlinear potential theory, full viscous theory and/or hybrid models may be developed for simulating nonlinear FSI in marine engineering. In terms of applications, the simulations may be applied to platforms/structures for oil/gas, for offshore wind energy system and for wave energy. In terms of physics, the simulations may be employed to study the nature of VIV, the wave impact on the structures, turbulent effects on wave loading, aeration effects on structural responses and so on.

Oil spilling from damaged oil tankers subjected to high sea state (Dr Yan)

This area is an extension of the multi-scale multi-model simulation of FSI in marine engineering, but is more specifically an environmental issue. It requires to build a hybrid model coupling the large-scale wave modelling using potential flow theory with small-scale FSI near the damaged oil tanker using multi-phase VOF model. It is expected to advance our understanding on the dynamic oil spilling process and its interaction with tank motions and marine environment.

  • Wind-tall building interaction (Dr F Fu)
  • CFD modelling the real life fire development inside tall buildings (Dr F Fu)

Successes

Successful projects

Interaction between new and existing buried infrastructure

Researcher: Dr Binh Le (previously Dr Sam Divall)

Supervisor: Dr Richard Goodey

Description: The primary objective of the research is to establish clear, relatively simple guidelines for the construction of shafts in close proximity to existing structures. The research will centre on addressing current issues of concern and the main aims are:

  • To evaluate the source, distribution and extent of ground movements caused by shaft construction in clay.
  • To evaluate the effect of these movements on nearby existing infrastructure.
  • To investigate the influence of the shaft's cross-sectional shape, particularly the orientation of the major and minor axes of an elliptical shaft relative to existing infrastructure.

This research project is supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

Outputs: Le et al. (2019) and Divall & Goodey (2016)

Minimising ground movements in soft soils adjacent to excavations

Researcher: Dr Jignasha Panchal

Principal Investigator: Dr Andrew McNamara

Description: Centrifuge modelling techniques will investigate methods of reducing ground movements in soft clays arising from deep excavations. This project will focus on feasible construction methods that can be implemented on site to reduce the effects of heave and subsequently mitigate movements behind the wall.

Outputs: Panchal (2018), Panchal et al. (2018), Panchal et al. (2017), and

Panchal et al. (2017) Effects of wall embedment on base heave failure arising from deep excavations in soft soils, Proceedings in the 9th International Symposium on Geotechnical Aspects of Underground Construction in Soft Ground, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Panchal & McNamara (2016) Excavation techniques to reduce ground movements in soft soils, Proceedings in the 14th BGA Young Geotechnical Engineering Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland.


softsoils

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Compensation grouting to control ground movements around deep excavations

Researcher: Dr Hitesh Halai

Supervisor: Dr Andrew McNamara

Description: The London Geotechnical Centrifuge is used to model compensation grouting behind a retained 12m deep excavation. The research study examines the effectiveness of the technique in controlling surface ground movements and the impact on the retaining wall during and after an excavation. The results could provide a better understanding of the limitations present when considering its use behind excavations.

Outputs: Halai (2018), Halai & McNamara (2014) and Halai et al. (2012)

Evaluation of extraction forces for pile casings

Researchers: Dr Jignasha Panchal, Dr Andrew McNamara & Dr Rohit Gorasia

Description: The Federation of Piling Specialists published guidelines for calculating the pullout forces of temporary steel casings used in rotary bored pile construction.  The research was undertaken in collaboration with Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering and Cementation Skanska Ltd which involved field testing and a series of centrifuge tests.  The centrifuge tests were carried out using the geotechnical centrifuge facility at City, University of London.  An assessment has been made of the influence of casing diameter, embedment and overburden stress on pullout forces.

Outputs: Gorasia et al. (2014) and Panchal & McNamara (2017).

The stress transmission in a granular system

Researcher: Dr Sadegh Nadimi

Supervisor: Dr Joana Fonseca

Description: The proposed research focuses on the investigation of the mechanical properties of granular materials across the scales. It includes the development of 3D image-based µFE modelling to simulate the grain-to-grain interactions under a variety of loading scenarios and compute the internal maps of strain and stresses. This will help establishing the link between the micro phenomena and the macro response and contribute towards improving geotechnical design.

Outputs: Nadimi (2017), Nadimi & Fonseca (2017a) and Nadimi & Fonseca (2017b)

Granular materials models

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Multiscale modelling of shelly carbonate sands for foundation design of offshore structures (MuMShell)

Researcher: Dr Deqiong Kong

Principal Investigator: Dr Joana Fonseca

The proposed research uses 4D synchrotron x-ray imaging and post analysis to investigate the kinematics and the strain maps of a shelly carbonate sand under compression. The outcomes will contribute scientific understanding on the multiscale behaviour of shelly carbonate sands. This will form the basis to develop fabric-informed constitutive models to better predict the soil response, thus improving design practices for foundations of offshore structures.

This  is an EPSRC First Grant funded project.

Outputs: Kong & Fonseca (2019), Fonseca et al. (2018), Kong & Fonseca (2018), Nadimi & Fonseca (2017) and Kong & Fonseca (2017)

Investigation into the primary fabric of stress transmitting particles in sand

Principal Investigator: Dr Joana Fonseca

Description: This study investigates the networks of stress transmitting particles based on the geometrical data obtained from micro-CT images. This study contributes with unique insights into the influence of contact and grain morphologies on the process of the stress transmission from grain-to-grain and consequently, on the deformation and macro-scale response of the material.

Outputs: Fonseca et al. (2015)

Diagrams showing the response of sand

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The effect of soil reinforcement on tunnel face stability in clay

Researcher: Dr Binh Le

Supervisor: Professor Neil Taylor

Description: In weak or unstable ground conditions, tunnelling induced movements could be controlled by providing Forepoling Umbrella System ahead of the tunnel face. This research, through centrifuge modelling techniques, aims to obtain the key features affecting the efficiency.

Outputs: Le & Taylor (2018), Le & Taylor (2017), Le & Taylor (2016), Le et al. (2015) and Le & Taylor (2014)

Diagram showing Forepoling Umbrella System

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Centrifuge modelling of tunnelling with forepoling

Researcher: Dr Sam Divall

Co-researchers: Professor Neil Taylor & Dr Ming Xu

Description: Construction techniques are conducted to form a pre-lining in unfavourable ground conditions when tunnelling.  Often this technique can take the form of injected grout steel pipes as forepoling by or the installation of bars around the periphery of the face, typically over the upper quarter or third of the excavated profile.  A series of eight plane strain centrifuge model tests investigating the effect of inserting inclusions around the annulus of a single tunnel in overconsolidated clay has been conducted using the geotechnical centrifuge at City, University of London.

Outputs: Divall et al. (2016)

The disaggregation of soil during slurry tunnelling

Researcher: Dr Neil Phillips

Supervisor: Professor Sarah Stallebrass

Description: The research project has designed a laboratory mixing test using a planetary mixer to aid in the prediction of the grading of excavated soil after transportation through the slurry pipeline. To aid in the disaggregation breakdown, soil classification tests were also carried out. Understanding the amount a soil disaggregates during transportation is key when specifying the separation plant.

Outputs: Stallebrass et al. (2015) and Phillips et al. (2014)

Microstructure evolution during cone penetration in silt (Collaboration with NTNU Trondheim, Norway)

Principal Investigator: Dr Joana Fonseca

Description: This project looks at the change in soil microstructure around the probe during cone penetration to investigate the failure mechanism and the processes controlling drainage in silt. It uses image analysis of backscattered electron (EPMA) images of polished thin sections prepared from frozen samples. Understanding the mechanisms of grain reorientation following cone penetration can help explaining the drainage patterns controlling the cone resistance and the development of pore pressures.

Outputs: Paniagua et al. (2015)

void contours

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Ground movements associated with twin-tunnel construction in clay

Researcher: Dr Sam Divall

Supervisor: Dr Richard Goodey

Description: Therefore, a series of plane strain centrifuge tests was carried out investigating twin tunnelling-induced settlements in overconsolidated clay. Apparatus necessary to perform these tasks required a significant amount of time to develop and was relatively complex. The main variables were the spacing between the tunnels, both horizontally and vertically, and the magnitude of volume loss. The tests were conducted at 100g where the cavities represented two 4m diameter tunnels at (usually) a depth of 10m at prototype scale. The tests utilised novel apparatus designed during the research to enable the simulation of the construction processes related to volume loss in separate sequential tunnels.

Outputs: Divall & Goodey (2012), Divall et al. (2014)Divall & Goodey (2015), Divall et al. (2017a) & Divall et al. (2017b)

Behaviour of ribbed piles in clay

Researcher: Dr Rohit Gorasia

Supervisor: Dr Andrew McNamara

Description: This research concerns the influence of ribs on the ultimate capacity of a bored pile in overconsolidated clay. Ribbed bored piles are known to give increased shaft capacity in comparison to conventional straight shafted bored piles.  Experimental data were obtained from a series of 23 centrifuge model tests undertaken at 50g. The geometry of the model was such that it was possible to test two piles with each test. Of the two piles tested one was always a plain pile, this allowed for direct comparison to the ribbed pile in the same test and hence any inconsistency in the soil sample to be accounted for. The performance of several rib designs and spacings were investigated, whilst the pile inner diameter and length remained constant. A series of datum tests were conducted to verify the accuracy and repeatability of the testing equipment. Four rib types were tested; concentric ribs, helical ribs, tapered ribs and under reamed ribs. The use of ribs was found to always increase the ultimate capacity of a pile. Of all the rib profiles tested the helical profile was shown to be the most effective.

Outputs: McNamara & Gorasia (2016)

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