Southampton at centre of developing Britain’s infrastructure
Friday September 27th, 2019
The University of Southampton will continue to lead the way in shaping the future of the UK’s major infrastructure with the opening of the National Infrastructure Laboratory on its Boldrewood innovation campus.
The National Infrastructure Laboratory will provide researchers and students at the University of Southampton and around the world with state of the art equipment to build on their current world leading research to design infrastructure that can meet the demands of the modern world.
At the heart of the facility will be the cavernous Large Structures Testing Laboratory with a 4m deep reinforced concrete floor. This will be where the strength of heavy duty infrastructure components such as railway tracks, bridge beams and wind turbine blades will be tested to their limits under loads of up to 50 tonnes, increasing in future to 250 tonnes.
The NIL also includes a state of the art 6m diameter geotechnical centrifuge which effectively compresses timescales by increasing gravity. This means researchers will be able to simulate the behaviour of an infrastructure component in service conditions over the course of its whole life in just hours or days.
William Powrie, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Southampton said: “Infrastructure and urban systems underpin modern life. Our new facilities, which will be open to researchers from around the world, will support research to ensure that our infrastructure is affordable, adaptable, resilient and transformational. Our research in rail infrastructure has underpinned innovation and design improvements for several years. This new investment by Network Rail will accelerate customer focused improvements in performance, cost-efficient design and carbon neutral construction.”
In keeping with the University’s vision for engineering knowledge to be passed on as well as continually developed by the next generation of engineers, the Laboratory will also provide a new teaching facility, further increasing the quality of learning and experience for students.
Southampton is part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), comprising 13 universities carrying out world-leading research through a network of facilities and laboratories. The National Infrastructure Laboratory will form part of this network and represents an investment of £48m including funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS), the University of Southampton and project partners.