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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C547373/1
Title: Mapping the Underworld: Enhanced Methods for the Detection of Buried Assets
Principal Investigator: Burd, Professor HJ
Other Investigators:
Edwards, Professor DJ Stevens, Professor CJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering Science
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 18 April 2005 Ends: 17 October 2008 Value (£): 189,663
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Acoustics Construction Ops & Management
Ground Engineering Information & Knowledge Mgmt
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Pavement Engineering
Urban & Land Management Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Environment
Transport Systems and Vehicles Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
During the last 150 years or so, an extensive infrastructure of buried pipes and cables has been installed. This network of underground assets is needed for the transport of water, sewage and gas, for the transmission of electrical power and for data communication purposes. Many of these assets (particularly those associated with water, gas and sewage) are nearing the end of their practical life and, in the coming decades, these will need to be replaced. In addition to this replacement program, new assets (e.g. associated with new housing developments) will continue to be installed.Construction procedures for the repair, replacement and installation of buried assets are often based on the use of traditional trenching methods. Increasingly, however, repair and installation work is being conducted using trenchless methods. For all construction procedures, however, it is important to avoid damaging existing assets when any new construction activity is undertaken. (Damage could be caused by, for example, a JCB digger striking a cable or by the drill head associated with a trenchless method striking a gas main). If damage is to be avoided, then accurate location data on existing buried assets is needed.Unfortunately, available records on the location of buried assets are incomplete. Designers and specifiers therefore need to supplement the available data by conducting their own surveys on the location of any buried assets near to the site of any proposed new construction activity. Although survey methods (e.g. ground probing radar and other electromagnetic techniques) are available, they are currently incapable of providing complete location data of the required quality.This project is aimed at developing new methods of improving the visibility of underground pipes when surveyed from the ground surface using electromagnetic techniques. A system of 'resonant labels' will be developed. These are relatively simple metallic structures that could be encapsulated within a new pipe prior to installation. The purpose of the labels is to provide an effective means of reflecting electromagnetic signals at predetermined frequencies. The system will operate in much the same way as the reflector on a bicycle provides enhanced visibility when illuminated by the lights of a car.Research will be conducted on the electromagnetic characteristics of a variety of soil types to determine appropriate frequencies for use in connection with the resonant label system. Initially, the research will be laboratory-based. In the final stages of the project, however, tests will be conducted at field scale.The research will lead to cost-effective methods of 'labelling' new pipes so that they can be effectively located, when required, in the future.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL: http://www.oxems.com/
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk