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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K040316/1
Title: 50g-Tonne 4m Diameter Civil Engineering Centrifuge: Centre for Energy & Infrastructure Ground Research
Principal Investigator: Hounslow, Professor MJ
Other Investigators:
Black, Dr J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil and Structural Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 August 2013 Ends: 31 July 2018 Value (£): 769,399
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Feb 2013 EPSRC Equipment Business Case - February 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Ground Engineering is of critical importance to society through the provision of infrastructure and underpins key challenges relating to energy provision, dealing with the impact of climate change on our infrastructure and manufacturing the future through the use of novel material in construction.

The extent of Civil Engineering infrastructure and variable ground conditions frequently preclude full-scale field trials placing high value infrastructure assets at risk due to uncertainty in performance. The stress dependent strength and stiffness behaviour of soil prevent small bench scale model tests to effectively capture full-scale behaviour unless stress levels are artificially enhanced. Gravitational acceleration produced by an engineering centrifuge enhances stresses and therefore enables observations of small scale models tested at elevated gravity to represent full-scale conditions. Distinct advantages of this method are that it (i) offers a more cost effective approach compared to full scale testing for validating behaviour, (ii) enables new designs to be safely evaluated, (iii) enables us to learn from previous failures to provide improved engineering design, and (iv) offers the ability to predict future performance of our infrastructure to extreme climate change events, thus enabling prevention strategies to be adopted.

The University of Sheffield, Department of Civil and Structural Engineering will establish a flagship research centre, 'The Centre for Energy and Infrastructure Research' targeted specifically at developing connectivity between Ground Engineering and key areas of strategic national importance in Energy, Living with Environmental Change and Manufacturing the Future, to deliver modern infrastructure and inform management strategies for existing assets to prolong their life cycle. Central to this facility will be a 50g-tonne 4m diameter beam centrifuge, capable of rotating a mass of 500kg at 150g, equipped with the latest technological advancements, instrumentation and robotic actuator control, to unlock vital scientific knowledge that will enable enhanced understanding of complex construction problems.

The centre will be embedded at the heart of one of the UK's premier engineering faculties and will capitalise on a portfolio of multi-disciplinary research to explore new innovative scientific discovery. We will work with academics in other institutions by operating the centrifuge as a shared resource which will establish a hub of expertise to deliver interdisciplinary research providing fundamental understanding and applied guidance to government and industry stakeholders to optimise investment in infrastructure management and development.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk