Engineering performance and sustainability metrics to drive optimisation of steel in low carbon rail transport networks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


Future sustainability in the transportation sector will require a shift from personal transport toward public transport. Key in this drive will be a sustainable rail system built on a sustainable rail infrastructure.
Within the current rail infrastructure, steel accounts for around 43% of the embedded carbon but, on the positive side, steel is 100% recyclable. This project aims to scientifically investigate the role of steel within the rail infrastructure from both an engineering, and techno-economic perspective.
For years the ties between engineering functions and business functions, within both business and academia, have been very distinct. This project aims to blur the lines between these disciplines by encompassing both a real experimental engineering perspective, and a 'true to life' business application/model with respect to rail infrastructure.
From an engineering viewpoint, the project will leverage UKRRIN, the UK Rail Research Innovation Network of which University of Sheffield and British Steel are founding members. There is an extensive state-of-the-art equipment set located at both British Steel and University of Sheffield to address sustainability of steel infrastructure components through accelerated life cycle assessments and real testing. This work will be carried out both at Sheffield's Faculty of Engineering and British Steel R&D.
From a techno-economic viewpoint, the project will investigate:
- A 'cost function' for carbon in steel railway components as a weighted combination of all the factors influencing productive life, performance, and the costs
- Linked to the above, exploration of sensitivity to where the system boundary is defined
- Optimisation- are there some non-obvious ways to maximise outcomes?
-Alternative business models for infrastructure - lease or own?
This work will be carried out at Sheffield's Management School, and with British Steel's Commercial and Marketing Teams.
The link between the engineering and commercial functions of business is currently too wide. This project has the potential to challenge the separation of these disciplines and produce a well-rounded graduate for which industry is craving.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022635/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2617244 Studentship EP/S022635/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Jacob Whittle