REAL: River, Estuary and Coastal resilient infrastructure testing flume

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


Lifeline infrastructure - for example, bridges, dams, flood defences, ports, marine wind farms etc - in river, costal or marine environments is subjected to complex loading regimes arising through combinations of hydrodynamic and geotechnical effects. River or tidal currents and waves may induce structural loadings and sedimentological and / or geotechnical responses that can ultimately lead to severe damage or structural failure. Changing patterns of climate and infrastructure use mean that the compound effect of potentially two or more destabilising mechanisms is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to predict. However, despite their critical role in the resilience of lifeline infrastructure systems, these complex interactions remain largely under-researched. The resulting lack of understanding may lead to unnecessary costs or preventable failure of vital pieces of infrastructure.

The aim of this project is to develop REAL, a novel experimental facility that will revolutionise research in submerged infrastructure by enabling comprehensive multi-phenomena testing. Creation of this unique facility will require the purchase of equipment comprising a large tilting flume, systems for water pumping and storage, wave generation and absorption, sediment feeding, recirculation and separation and instruments for detailed measurement of water velocities. These systems will be fully integrated and automated to reproduce scenarios representative of real-world conditions at unprecedented levels of realism. The research enabled by the facility will pave the way to novel approaches to the design and construction of future infrastructure systems that are both resilient and cost effective.


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