UKCRIC - Bristol Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction Facility (SoFSI)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Civil Engineering

Abstract

The primary motivation of UKCRIC is to drive down the cost of infrastructure and to extract increased value from it. Epistemic uncertainty is at the heart of these cost and value issues. The original UKCRIC proposal set out the need for large to prototype scale experimentation as an essential part of resolving key epistemic uncertainties. Soil-foundation-structure interaction (SFSI) is one of the topics carrying greatest uncertainty. Current engineering methods and codes of practice tend to treat the three elements of the problem separately and usually only introduce their coupling through the crudest of means. As a result, the implications, deficiencies and benefits of whether or not to consider the holistic system response, especially for dynamic loadings, are poorly understood. This leads to over-conservatism in many designs, to restrictions on innovation due to the perceived uncertainties, and in some cases to unexpected failures, particularly where earthquake and other dynamic loads are concerned. Conventional smaller scale laboratory modelling and available numerical modelling techniques are unable to capture reliably many of these holistic system response effects. The UKCRIC scientific case successfully argued the need for a large scale dynamic soil-foundation-structure interaction facility on these grounds.

The UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction Facility (SoFSI), to be built at the University of Bristol, will be a large outdoor compound populated with modular reaction walls, reaction slabs, servo-hydraulic and other equipment and office spaces, which can be reconfigured and augmented to suit the needs of particular experiments. The envisaged compound will measure 150x50m and will have a simple, reconstitutable, crushed rock bed on top of which modular reaction slabs or other suitable surface preparations may be applied to suit the needs of the experiment. Secure modular offices will be based on ISO standard shipping container patterns. Reaction walls and soil specimen containers will be built from large interlocking reinforced concrete blocks that can be pre-stressed together, or bolstered by steel beams, for strength and stiffness. The blocks will be detailed to accommodate actuator and other equipment attachments, and to facilitate safe access and working conditions amongst other requirements. Sensitive equipment, such as actuators and hydraulic power pack modules, will be enclosed in purpose designed weather-proof enclosures. Control rooms will be in mobile offices, positioned locally to the experiment and configured to suit the needs of the latter. Where necessary, overall environmental protection will be provided by clad scaffolding envelopes over the whole rig.

The SoFSI facility will be a node of the UKCRIC Bristol Collaboratory (living laboratory) through a high performance network connection to the innovative Bristol Is Open (BIO) IT network infrastructure (www.bristolisopen.com). The Collaboratory's accessible engagement and co-production spaces, with advanced data visualisation capabilities, and connections to BIO, will allow broad user engagement and participation in the co-production of SoFSI activities. Through the BIO connection and Collaboratory capabilities, infrastructure professionals, owners and businesses will be able to work with academics to conceive and execute SoFSI experimental programmes and to access and use the resulting data more readily. The Collaboratory co-production spaces will be open to citizens and young people, with satellite nodes being located in schools, colleges and community centres around the city-region. This will enable the UKCRIC SoFSI community to engage actively with these groups, raising public awareness of the research and, most importantly, stimulating the pipeline of future engineers and infrastructure professionals.

Planned Impact

Not required for the VfM case

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description During the current submission period the business case has been approved, the planning permission has been granted, all equipment has been tendered, purchased and delivered at the premises of the vendors pending completion of construction. The contractor has been appointed and the contract has been signed. The constructor is now on site and the Facility is technically and financially on site to be delivered by the end of March 2021.
Exploitation Route Too early to say (the award is still active)
Sectors Construction,Energy,Transport

URL https://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/research/ukcricbristol/sofsi/
 
Description The ways in which real structures, such as offshore wind turbines, large span bridges, rail tracks, nuclear power plants and buildings, actually interact with their foundations and the surrounding soil are inadequately understood, resulting in conservatisms in design, construction and operation, that drives up costs and inhibits innovation. The University of Bristol has received capital investment of £12M for the construction of a National Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction (SoFSI) Laboratory to enable large prototype scale experiments for use by both academics and industry. This laboratory forms part of the first phase of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) network of 13 national laboratories seeking to underpin the renewal, sustainment and improvement of infrastructure and cities in the UK and elsewhere. This laboratory integrates structural and geotechnical engineering for soil structure testing and will fill key gaps in our understanding which cannot be resolved using conventional, smaller scale, laboratory tests or prototype observations. The SoFSI Facility will enable us to deliver a unique, high value, capability for de-risking investments in innovation and development, for example in life-extension techniques for existing infrastructure or the application of new materials and devices. The laboratory has been under development for a number of years, and is currently under construction at the University of Bristol's Langford Campus. This site will provide a space suitable for the scale of the facility with good transport links locally, nationally and internationally. The SoFSI facility comprises: (a) a 6mx4m biaxial shaking table with a 50t capacity, capable of meeting BELLCORE test standards with a peak acceleration at 2g and maximum frequency of 50Hz, (b) a 6mx5m test pit with a depth of 4m with adjacent strong floors for mounting 2 no. 1MN pseudostatic actuators (1000mm stroke) and 1 no. 1MN dynamic actuator (500mm stroke) (c) a high g multi-axis simulation table with a 500kg capacity, capable of a peak acceleration of 8g, as well as a 30t gantry crane with a maximum lift height of 8m above floor level and internal and external working and storage areas. Planning permission has now been granted for the facility and site clearance works have been completed. Construction has started with full operation expected by early 2021.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Construction,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Element Seismic Testing Partnership 
Organisation Element Materials Technology Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have entered into an MOU with Element Ltd to undertake seismic qualification testing using equipment purchased with this grant.
Collaborator Contribution This partnership has brought additional funding to the development of SoFSI and will enable futher upgrades and improvements to the facility to be made.
Impact Outputs are commercially confidential
Start Year 2019
 
Description Industry workshop on Reducing the Cost of Nuclear, Bristol, 5 June 2018 
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 A one-day workshop with a leading nuclear operator and its wider supply chain, discussing the needs for seismic soil-structure interaction research. This led to the formation of a working group and a follow-up workshop with the aim of scoping a long term research and development route map.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description PLEXUS Away Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The primary purpose of the residential was to plan the final months of the project, and, specifically, to shape the project's overarching narrative and main messages, and to plan the combined outputs to which we can commit. We will also use this time to plan the final stakeholder event, which will be informed by our revised narrative, main messages and outputs. Lastly, we will discuss follow-on projects.

In order to do all of this, means were explored to be on the same page with regard to the research challenge messages. We are therefore asking each Research Challenge to provide an overview of its work, including its narrative, how its narrative fits with the wider PLEXUS project, its main messages, the audiences for these messages, and the outputs it has produced, can commit to produce by April (the final event) and can commit to produce by the end of the project (June).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description PLEXUS Researchers' Collaboration meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Event took place on 21/11/2019 at the University of Birmingham including presentations and a transdisciplinarity mini-workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Parnership building meeting with Atkins 
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 Small workshop meeting with Atkins to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction facility (SoFSI). Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Participation in South West Infrastructure Panel of SW ICE (07/02/2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Membership of newly formed SW Infrastructure Panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Opportunity to feed in ideas and techniques from UrbanID, ReDReSC and UKCRIC into policy coordination for infrastructure across the SW of England.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in meeting with Mayor of Bristol and local business regarding One City Plan (12/10/2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Injection of policy and practice ideas from UKCRIC, ReDReSC and UrbanID projects into formative discussions about the One City plan, chaired by the Mayor of Bristol (Marvin Rees) and local business leaders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Partnership building meeting with Arup (05/04/2017) 
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 Small workshop meeting with Arup to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction facility (SoFSI). Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Partnership building meeting with HR Wallingford (25/05/2017) 
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 Small workshop meeting with HR Wallingford to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction facility (SoFSI). Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Partnership building meeting with Jacobs (11/05/2017) 
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 Small workshop meeting with Jacob to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction facility (SoFSI). Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Partnership building workshop with Bristol City Council City Control Room Leaders 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Small workshop meeting with Bristol City Council City Control Room Leaders to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC facilties, UrbanID and ReDReSC projects. Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Poster display about UKCRIC SoFSI facility at Int Conf on Next Generation Infrastructure, ICE, London, 11-13 Sept 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster display about the UKCRIC SoFSI facility development, on show in the refreshments area of this international conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Project Demonstration during the Engineering Research Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Talk during the School of Engineering Reseach Showcase
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwJaMvxwVuo
 
Description Series of engagement sessions with the SoFSI design team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Series of engagement sessions with the SoFSI Advisory Board including Arup and the design team to facilitate the design of the facility
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SoFSI Industry workshop, 04/05/2017 
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 Workshop meeting with consultants, contractors and infrastructure owners to explore industry needs for the UKCRIC Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction facility (SoFSI). Contributed to raising awareness of the proposed facility, eliciting performance requirements, prioritisation of use cases, and input to research route mapping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Soil-structure interaction workshop with EDF, Saclay, France, 26 Novemnber 2018 
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 follow-on workshop explore research needs with respect to seismic soil-structure interaction research as part of an ongoing process to develop a long term research route map. Bristol and French universities described their work, and EDF related this to their seismic safety needs. This was a first step in building collaborative partnerships with French colleagues and industry. A further workshop is planned for the summer of 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UKCRIC All Hand Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact All-hands meeting at the University of Cambridge on November 7th, 2019 to collectively steer UKCRIC in terms of inter-disciplinary and inter-facility collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description UKCRIC Management Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact UKCRIC Management Board Meeting
Wednesday 23 October 2019, 0930-1330
Institute for Engineering and Technology (IET), Mountbatten Exhibition Room
2 Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description UKCRIC Management Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact UKCRIC MANAGEMENT BOARD
Thursday 23rd January 2020, 10am to 2pm. Refreshments from 9.30.
Watson-Watt room, Institute of Engineering & Technology, 2 Savoy Place London WC2R 0BL
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description UKCRIC Urban Observatories/National Infrastructure Commission workshop, held as part of Festival of the Future Cities week (17/10/2017) 
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 A day long workshop focused on the UKCRIC Urban Observatories developments and links to the National Infrastructure Commission's policy development around digital twins.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Urban Living Partnership workshop session at Festival of the Future City, Bristol (19/10/2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An afternoon workshop session featuring presentations from all 5 Urban Living Partnership Pilot projects. Progress update on Bristol UrbanID project, with further reference to UKCRIC and ReDReSC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017