UKCRIC: National Water Infrastructure Facility: Distributed Water Infrastructure

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Civil and Structural Engineering

Abstract

The UK water sector faces very significant challenges: increasing population, higher customer expectations, better protection of the natural environment, with reducing resource availability and uncertain climate change. These pressures particularly combine in urban areas where the majority of the UK's citizens live and which are served by large and increasingly unsustainable and inflexible "legacy" water and drainage systems. These large legacy systems are a deteriorating asset in which there have been long term reductions in real terms investment. In the UK, inferred sewer and clean water asset design lives are 800+ and 120+ years, respectively. Yet with the current average asset life of around 70 years we are already experiencing unacceptable levels of service. The current premise of operating urban water systems with continual, gradual deterioration is no longer acceptable. If we wish to avoid massive future bills for wholesale renewal of our water infrastructure we urgently need to understand deterioration and develop innovative ways of monitoring and intervening.

Water utilities are traditionally cautious innovation adopters given the significant potential health and environmental implications of their actions. Appreciating this and the long term pressures facing the UK's (and international) water infrastructure systems it is clear that there is an urgent need for more scientifically based approaches and better evidenced technologies to meet future expectations without a significant economic burden on water users.
UKCRIC will enhance research capacities in the following areas at three of the UK's leading urban water research groups (Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield Universities) to address this issue.

1. Surface water management and smart water systems (Newcastle University): A new surface water management facility with equivalent urban infrastructure test-beds for energy, transport and ICT will be delivered. The facility will be modular so components can be tested in isolation, in series to model urban water as it moves from the roof to the river .
2. Distributed water infrastructure (University of Sheffield): A new specially designed water asset failure and deterioration facility will enable full scale experimentation of water and sewer pipes and ancillary structures to study deterioration and failure mechanisms, in-pipe biological/chemical and physical processes, flooding and corrosion processes and the assessment of asset condition under realistic environments. The existing world leading facilities of the Pennine Water Group at Sheffield will be enhanced with improved measurement capabilities.
3. Wastewater and potable water treatment (Cranfield University): A new potable water pilot hall will enhance the existing suite of industrial-scale test facilities. The facility will support research on the interdependencies between treatment and distribution processes, on condition monitoring & performance technologies. A breakthrough innovation hub will provide flexible space for design, rapid prototyping and testing of novel infrastructure components and sub-systems, visualisation facilities will provide access to sensor data from both on and off campus infrastructure systems providing opportunities for advances in analytics and testing

The aim of the UKCRIC facilities is to provide a collaborative, world-class research infrastructure that will allow UK researchers and innovators in the water sector to come together share ideas and then benefit from access to world class laboratories to develop and demonstrate those concepts so and to get them to a level of maturity appropriate for implementation to achieve long term impact on the UK's water infrastructure. This new knowledge, evidence and innovation will impact on our current urban water systems by reducing the risk of failure, reducing their environmental impact and reducing the likelihood of unacceptably high future investment.

Planned Impact

Water infrastructure is essential for the provision of safe drinking water, wastewater collection and treatment and adequate flood risk management. These large and often centralised infrastructure systems are therefore essential for life, they sustain economic growth and can have a significant impact on the ecological status of natural aquatic ecosystems.

UKCRIC will deliver a world class physical research infrastructure to study the key challenges facing the UK's water infrastructure into the 21st century. The scale of the investment will have a widespread impact upon individuals, organisations and institutions that engage with water service provision in the UK. The co-ordination of the three UKCRIC urban water facilities at Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield means that all types of water infrastructure can be studied ensuring a comprehensive provision of large scale research facilities for the UK water sector. The provision of world class collaborative experimental facilities has the potential to significantly enhance the effectiveness of innovation across the UK water sector. At Sheffield we anticipate that new knowledge on distributed water and drainage infrastructure will lead to better water quality for customers, fewer disruptions, less impact on society and the environment from uncontrolled discharges, new technologies to better control and manage networks and new techniques for monitoring and repair.

Our key deliverables leading to impact will be: (i) new academic-end user partnerships who will have utilised the UKCRIC facilities; (ii) new knowledge, technologies and products to better manage the UK's water infrastructure without unacceptable long term impact; (iii) high quality evidence to assess the economic viability, novelty and water utility acceptability of new solutions based on data collected at full scale; (iv) better understanding of barriers for technology adoption to better manage water infrastructure assets; (v) new technologies and approaches that can be used by the UK water sector to enhance its international competiveness.

Operating a collaborative set of large scale facilities will enabling better coordination and demonstration, and will help to address the difficulties of co-creating research across academia and industry that currently limits the uptake of innovation and new knowledge in the UK water sector. Research from the UKCRIC facilities will positively impact water service providers (water companies and supply chain), through the collaborative development of tools, technologies and processes that provide competitive advantage to these organisations in the context of future water service provision. In addition, we envisage positive impacts on other infrastructure providers such as energy and waste through cross-sector collaboration and learning.

By 2030 the UK share of the global water technology market has the potential to increase to 10% (£8.8 billion) or more, providing 71,000 jobs and involving 960 SMEs (UKWRIP, 2012). The UKCRIC facilities will address this challenge delivering world-leading water research in practice, and will position the water industry utilities, their consultants supply chains and new SMEs, to exploit this market opportunity and promote the UK to be a leading water innovation country internationally.

The investment in the three major water infrastructure research facilities at Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield will raise the profile of water engineering as an important and attractive sector for academia and the economy. We will specifically impact on the next generation of water engineering researchers and engineers by developing their technical and research expertise. The UKCRIC facilities will clearly demonstrate that the UK has the ambition to be one of the leading research environments for study of water infrastructure. This will attract very capable researchers from out with the UK and so will strengthen the UK research base.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description KTP with Nuron
Amount £175,660 (GBP)
Funding ID 511089 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 10/2021
 
Description PLEXUS
Amount £1,013,092 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R013535/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2019
 
Description Pervasive Sensing for Buried Pipes
Amount £7,290,965 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S016813/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 02/2024
 
Description Rapid monitoring of river hydrodynamics and morphology using acoustic holography
Amount £521,877 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R022275/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description PLEXUS- Priming Laboartory Laboratory Experiments on Infrastructure and Urban Systems 
Organisation Nuron ltd
PI Contribution Testing of a new product
Collaborator Contribution Partner has provided funding for a Innovate UK KTP
Impact Development of a new sensing system
Start Year 2016
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Cambridge Univeristy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 27th November Academic staff from Cambridge University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - HR Wallingford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 4th April, HR Wallingford senior staff
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - IKT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 9th December IKT - senior and engineering staff on visit to IKT.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - IKT Senior Staff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 4th February - senior staff IKT, Germany
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Kier 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait, 28th February - senior innovation staff Kier Construction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Liege University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 28th August, Water Research Group, University of Liege.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Morrison Utility Services 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 14th February, Meeting with senior innovation staff from Morrisons Utility Services.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - NIC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 2nd October, National Infrastructure Commission.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Public Utilities Board Singapore 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 21st July, Public Utilities Board Singapore, Senior Engineering staff.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Sheffield Researchers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 26th May, Sheffield researchers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - WRc 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 12th February meeting with staff from WRc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introduction to the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility - Yorkshire Water 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 20th December Innovation Team, Yorkshire Water Services.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Opening of the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 11-12th October Formal Opening
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at 50th Year Departmental Open Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was a presentation to Departmental Alumini, as part of an Open Day to celebrate 50 years of the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Robotics Digital Innovation Hubs Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This was a workshop to make a range of stakeholders award of EU funding available for Digital Innovation Hubs. The workshop focissed on the area of Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description UKCRIC Workshop for Water Utilities at University of Cranfield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A workshop was organised at the University of Cranfield to introduce the UKCRIC facilities that have a relevance to the UK water industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Visit by ICE President and School Outreach Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 5th February Visit by ICE President and Schools Out Reach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop on use of CENTAUR system for practitioners 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Tait - 3rd July 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018