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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N017668/1
Title: Tailored Reinforced Concrete Infrastructure: Boosting the Innate Response to Chemical and Mechanical Threats
Principal Investigator: Lees, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Costain Laing O'Rourke Ltd Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 31 August 2017 Ends: 30 August 2023 Value (£): 1,290,683
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Structural Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Jan 2016 Eng Fellowship Interviews Jan 2016 Announced
25 Nov 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25th and 26th November 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The required global infrastructure investment from 2013-2030 is estimated to be £34 trillion. Thus there are significant social and economic ramifications associated with the utilisation and design of strategic infrastructure assets which are fit for purpose both now, and in the future. Nationally, the construction sector is vital and contributes around £90 billion annually to the UK economy.

This EPSRC Established Career Fellowship will provide Dr Lees with the prestige and freedom to extend the impact of her research and develop a new field of research dedicated to the creation of tailored concrete infrastructure. The enhancement of the innate characteristics of reinforced concrete with a concurrent reduction in total cement content directly links to key Engineering global grand challenges for Sustainability and Resilience. Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world, over 4 billion tonnes in 2013, and cement production is responsible for 5-7% of man-made CO2 emissions. 'Cradle to factory gate' emissions for CEM 1 are 913 kg CO2e for 1000 kg of cement. The sustainability credentials of the proposed research are to mitigate the scale of this environmental impact through the delivery of more durable construction, a reduction in the cement content in concrete products, and material efficiency.

The 'innate' characteristics of our reinforced concrete infrastructure include an inherent resistance to a myriad of deterioration causes e.g. chemical attack, chloride ingress, and mechanical actions e.g. dead and live loads. To help achieve the desired resistance, minimum cement contents are specified for a required strength or durability. In conventional practice, the same concrete mix is used throughout a given structural element. A compelling new paradigm is to break from conventional thinking and reinterpret a reinforced concrete structure as a tailored continuum to meet a desired serviceability, strength and/or durability performance. Material with high cement content is used judiciously to boost the innate response of our reinforced concrete infrastructure by explicitly recognising, targeting and reacting to environmental and mechanical threats to structural performance. In this way, there is either no loss, or an enhancement, in structural and durability functions. The innate immunity against environmental actions is boosted for corrosion prevention whereas the adaptability in response to mechanical actions is enhanced through the novel design of the concrete continuum for a greater structural resilience. These deliverables present a unique opportunity for the PI, UK Academia and UK Industry, to establish a world leading capability in a nascent field while addressing Engineering Sustainability priorities for lifetime extension, reduced lifetime costs, energy minimisation and a reduction in over-engineering.
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.cam.ac.uk