UKCRIC National Linear Infrastructure Laboratory - University of Southampton

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

There is an urgent need, and a transformative opportunity, to develop and exploit major advances in scientific understanding (including in the social and environmental sciences), multidisciplinary systems thinking, technological innovation and engineering, and manufacturing methods to adapt and augment the national economic infrastructure in a way that safeguards and enhances its multiple benefits with regard to economic growth, extreme event resilience, social wellbeing, environmental sustainability and export potential. A further research challenge is to understand how all aspects of infrastructure symbiotically serve the evolving needs and ambitions of nations and cities within the UK and elsewhere.

Intervention by way of targeted investment in capital equipment in key universities will enable world-leading research that creates and provides evidence for new paradigms in infrastructure over the next 50 years, reducing the cost of ownership of current and future infrastructure assets. As a result, significant direct & indirect societal and economic benefits will accrue to UK cities and to the country at large, and international commercial opportunities will be created for UK companies.

UKCRIC will address the above shortcomings in a focussed and evidenced-based way, leveraging existing investments in facilities and people to best effect. It will scale up existing research programmes to address near term issues such as investment in rail systems, roads, and flood and water management; and employ smart sensors and systems to generate open and big data for optimising the use of assets and investments. In the longer term, UKCRIC will develop new materials, new techniques and novel technologies. At the highest level, it will understand how to make the system of systems that constitutes the nation's infrastructure more resilient to extreme events and more adaptable to changing circumstances and contexts, and how it can provide services that are more affordable, accessible and useable to the whole population.

UKCRIC will:
i. Build on existing capabilities to establish a network of state-of-the-art large-scale experimental facilities supporting world-leading research in cities and infrastructure;
ii. Establish a unique, national network of local 'urban laboratories' to sense, capture, monitor & evaluate new and existing infrastructure in UK towns and cities;
iii. Establish world-leading computation and big data infrastructure for the modelling, simulation, and visualisation of cities and infrastructure;
iv. Coordinate UK research in cities and infrastructure nationally, promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing between disciplines and across sectors;
v. Amplify and grow existing activity to provide a focus for industrial engagement, knowledge sharing and technology transfer in cities and infrastructure research;
vi. Provide a focus for policy engagement at local, regional and national levels;
vii. Act as a focal point for cities and infrastructure research worldwide, maintaining and extending the UK's knowledge and innovation leadership in the design, planning, delivery, management, and operation of cities and infrastructure.

As a result of these activities, UKCRIC will:
1 Generate new knowledge, technologies and digital solutions that reduce the risk of, and add value to, the very large investments in infrastructure that will have to be made over the next 50 years;
2 Develop innovative solutions, including digital solutions, to infrastructure problems that reduce the cost of ownership of infrastructure and enhance the value of derived services;
3 Radically improve the resilience of infrastructure systems and services against extreme events;
4 Grow and maintain the capacity and capability of infrastructure professionals so as to enhance domestic and global commercial market opportunities.

National [Linear] Infrastructure Laboratory at University of Southampton is part of UKCRIC.

Planned Impact

To ensure that the £466B remaining in the National Infrastructure Pipeline is invested wisely, the UKCRIC case has been successfully made for a targeted and coordinated uplift in research capability supported by national investment in world-class national infrastructure research capability. The UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC) will provide leadership and support for the development and growth of a coordinated and coherent, world class, UK-based national infrastructure research community, spanning at least 13 universities in the first instance. It will engage government, city and commercial policy makers, investors, citizens and academia in a joint venture that drives innovation and value creation in the exploitation of services provided by national infrastructure. Through central coordination, providing a focal point for knowledge transfer, UKCRIC will support a step-change in the nation's approach to infrastructure investment. It will also develop a commercial resource that has considerable export potential for an international market that is valued at least $57 trillion in the period up to 2030.

Through collaborative postdoctoral training (Masters, PhD, EngD), research projects, and CPD courses, UKCRIC will train the next generation of research, knowledge and innovation leaders, in cities and infrastructure, across the academic, industry and policy sectors. For example, it is expected that more than 2,000 students and postdoctoral researchers will be trained on UKCRIC's facilities within the first 5 years.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The £48M National (Linear) Infrastructure Laboratory (NIL) has been opened and is occupied by approx. 100 researchers and students. The four main laboratories - Large Structures Testing lab, Testing and Structures Research lab, Geomechanics lab and Geotechnical Centrifuge - are being used for research and teaching, including undergrad and postgrad projects, while they continue to commission equipment. To maintain the NIL's world leading position specialist items continue to be procured with funding from other grants and from the University's own resources. A cost and staffing model has been implemented to allow other institutions and third parties to use the facilities or undertake collaborative research, and the laboratory is described on the UKCRIC website.
Exploitation Route The NIL underpins several current grants, contracts and proposals in development, including multi-institutional projects and programmes, and collaborative partnerships with industry. Payment for use of the facilities is governed by a TRAC model to ensure the sustainability of the NIL in the long term.

The laboratory has a target, in common with other UKCRIC facilities, for 25% use by others. The UKCRIC co-ordination node actively promotes the use of the facility by other institutions and third parties. The PI and one Co-I for this grant are respectively UKCRIC's Director of Research Strategy and Convenor, and are members of faculty at the University of Southampton.
Sectors Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Transport

URL https://www.ukcric.com/facilities/national-infrastructure-laboratory/
 
Description UKCRIC has developed its mission to underpin the renewal, sustainment and improvement of infrastructure and cities in the UK and elsewhere. It has articulated this in four mission statements: "Infrastructure and urban systems for one planet living" - Empowering society to thrive within the capacity of the planet through responsible consumption, resource efficiency and sustainable growth. "Ownership, governance and business models for infrastructure and urban systems" - Coping with greater system interdependencies, changing patterns of use and new, disruptive technologies whilst at the same time delivering social justice and affordability. "Transformational infrastructure and urban systems for a changing world" - Enabling infrastructure and urban systems to adapt to the challenges of climate change, changing patterns of use, societal expectations and emergent technologies. "Infrastructure and urban systems as drivers of equity, inclusion and social justice" - Forging healthy, happy and productive lives for all through urban design, planning, policy and infrastructure. These statements have been developed and agreed with our industry board and international panel. Examples of emerging economic and societal impact include the following. Members of UKCRIC have joined the Thames Tideway Tunnel Advisory Group to develop mitigation measures to address/limit construction impacts on residents, businesses and transport networks. Workshops and meetings have been initiated to develop plans for the East West Arc (Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge economic and housing development) and with East West Rail company to provide sustainable transport solutions for it. Members of UKCRIC are engaged at a high level with HS2, described more fully under influence on policy and practice. We have run a workshop for and engage with the Fawley Waterside Project, a proposal to develop a sustainable community of some 4,000 people and 2,000 jobs on the edge of the New Forest, where UKCRIC's missions "infrastructure and urban systems for one planet living" and "transformational infrastructure and urban systems for a changing world" are of particular relevance. A UKCRIC Co-ordination Node award enables stakeholder engagement with Core Cities; Key Cities through workshops; I3P; numerous all hands meetings across the UKCRIC partners and formation of the International Advisory Board. The NIL's large testing and geotechnics laboratories will be used to support UKRRIN (rail research) activities and to underpin a new 5-year R&D framework contract with Network Rail.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Advancing practice in managing groundwater in civil engineering
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Prof Powrie delivered a series of workshops to practising engineers in London (January 2019) and Canada (December 2019) on innovative techniques and design for managing groundwater in temporary and permanent civil engineering works.
 
Description Appointed to advise Chair of HS2
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Prof William Powrie was selected with Prof Andrew McNaughton (Southampton) and Prof Lord Robert Mair (Cambridge) to advise the Chairman of HS2 on the engineering design of HS2 infrastructure. Their work was cited in Recommendation 3 of the HS2 Chairman's Stocktake (August 2019) (HMG Official Sensitive - redacted version available at the given URL). In the context of challenging costs and deriving further efficiencies within the proposed scope of the railway, the Chairman says "I will continue to use Professor Andrew McNaughton, Lord Mair and Professor William Powrie to work with the HS2 Ltd Chief Engineer to examine the engineering assumptions behind existing designs". The Chairman's Stocktake was heavily cited and its cost estimates relied on in the Oakervee Review (December 2019), including a specific reference to risk arising from lack of information on ground conditions in Phase 2b. The Oakervee Review in turn underpinned the Prime Minister's announcement on 11 Feb 2020, so a direct line can be drawn from our research to the decision to proceed with HS2.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-ltd-chairmans-stocktake-august-2019
 
Description HS2 earthworks review panels
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Separately from his role advising the Chairman of HS2, Prof Powrie provided expert advice to HS2 technical leads and their consultants, and chaired or participated in a series of panels, design reviews and deep dive exercises to improve the design of HS2 geotechnical infrastructure, from January to August 2019 with occasional further inputs. He also gave independent advice to DfT on HS2, particularly at meetings on 15th (Southampton) and 27th March 2019 (London). This has led to more economical design of large cost elements of HS2, contributing to the decision to proceed with the project. Evidence for this is set out in the separate entry on advising the Chair of HS2, who reported in the HMG publication "HS2 Chairman's Stocktake" that he would "continue to use Professor Andrew McNaughton, Lord Mair and Professor William Powrie to work with the HS2 Ltd Chief Engineer to examine the engineering assumptions behind existing designs The value engineering on Main Works Civils Contractors to date has been far reaching .."
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-ltd-chairmans-stocktake-august-2019
 
Description Coordination Node for UKCRIC
Amount £1,165,613 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R017727/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description STRUCTURES 2025: A HIGH FIDELITY, DATA RICH, PARADIGM FOR STRUCTURAL TESTING
Amount £1,143,860 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R008787/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 11/2020
 
Description Standard research
Amount £1,143,860 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R008787/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 11/2020
 
Description UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF)
Amount £28,086,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description East West Arc Rail Alliance 
Organisation East West Railway Company
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Expertise on railway track systems, geotechnical engineering and transportation policy. Infrastructure and urban systems for one planet living. Infrastructure and urban systems as drivers of equity, inclusion and social justice. Engagement with innovation workshops and meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Developing and delivering a real world transportation system as part of the holistic development of a significant new intimately connected group of urban economic systems, where research will deliver direct social and economic impact. Political influence and community relations.
Impact Profs Richards and Powrie attended an innovation discussion at offices of EWR Co 4 April 2019, and Prof Richards led an Innovation Workshop in Edgbaston 1 August 2019. Prof Powrie and Prof Richards provided expert advice to an Earthworks Technical Review of EWR Co designs on 3 June 2019.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Opening of new UKCRIC laboratory by Chief Executive, Network Rail 
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 Over 160 people attended the September 2019 opening of the new £48M UKCRIC National Infrastructure Laboratory by Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, with guests of honour William Wilson, Chief Executive of Siemens Mobility, and Grahaeme Henderson, Vice President - Shipping, Shell Shipping and Maritime. The event was attended by senior industry, consultancy, trade organisation, government and academic partners from Associated British Ports, BAE Systems, British Steel, HS1, HS2, Lloyd's Register, National Grid, Network Rail, RSSB, Shell, Thales; Arup, Jacobs; DfT, EPSRC, Solent LEP; a number of SMEs; and several UK and one European universities - Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Delft, Heriot-Watt, Huddersfield, ICL, Leeds and Loughborough. At the event Network Rail announced a £2M R&D framework contract with UoS, and Shell signed a £1.5M donation to the University. The BBC attended, resulting in a 4-minute report shown twice on local television news and since used by us for other engagement activities. The event was also the subject of a press release by Network Rail and reported in a number of trade journals such as Ship Technology, Steel Guru and Premier Construction News. The then Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented, "A key part of improving our railways is ensuring the latest, cutting-edge technology is being developed and used across the network, cutting delays and strengthening resilience. Investing in innovation in the present will only improve the lives of passengers in the future."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2019/09/national-infrastructure-laboratory.page