Linking Modularity and Resilience in Infrastructure

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


A key dilemma in the construction sector is addressing the trade-off of building a certain infrastructure (e.g. a nuclear power plant) as "modular" or "stick built". This research project moves to a new assumption: the design and management of independent physical and organisational modules that, when combined, result in infrastructures (and system of infrastructures) more resilient and sustainable respect to ad-hoc designed monolithic infrastructures. Under this perspective, modularisation is not the "breaking down" of a monolithic infrastructure into ad-hoc modules but "building up" from standard modules designed ex-ante, reconfigurable infrastructures, with embedded resilience to face the uncertainty and dynamism encountered over the plant life-cycle. Considering a given output (e.g. the power plant electrical output), modularization can be defined in three forms: (1.) the creation of a monolithic plant from standard modules (e.g. turbines, pumps); (2.) the creation of a site made of small independent modular plants; and, (3) the installation of small independent modular plants at various sites. This vision deeply modifies the value of plant resilience (that it is possible to quantify with the Real Options approach), and has concrete implications in terms of "modular management".

This project not only considers modularisation in the construction phase, but also in the operations phase; not only from a physical point of view, but also from the organisational one. The development of standard "plant modules" built in mass production would allow efficiently building infrastructures that would also be possible to reconfigure/move/upgrade during their life cycle. As the life cycle of the modules different from the life of the plat/facility a "circular economy" analysis will also be considered.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509681/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1949429 Studentship EP/N509681/1 01/09/2017 28/02/2021 Benito Mignacca