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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment


CDT Director Dr Janet Lees wins 5-year £1.29 million EPSRC Established Career Fellowship.

Congratulations to Dr Janet Lees of the Structures Group, who has just been awarded a five-year £1.29 million EPSRC Established Career Fellowship. These are extremely prestigious and difficult-to-win awards.

Dr Lees’s proposal is as follows: Tailored Reinforced Concrete Infrastructure: Boosting the Innate Response to Chemical and Mechanical Threats.

The required global infrastructure investment from 2013–2030 is estimated to be £34 trillion. Thus there are significant social and economic ramifications associated with the utilisation and design of strategic infrastructure assets which are fit for purpose both now and in the future. Nationally, the construction sector is vital and contributes around £90 billion annually to the UK economy. This EPSRC Established Career Fellowship will provide Dr Lees with the prestige and freedom to extend the impact of her research and develop a new field of research dedicated to the creation of tailored concrete infrastructure. The enhancement of the innate characteristics of reinforced concrete directly links to key Engineering global grand challenges for Sustainability and Resilience.

Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world, over 4 billion tonnes in 2013, and cement production is responsible for 5–7% of manmade CO2 emissions. ‘Cradle to factory gate’ emissions for CEM 1 are 913 kg CO2e for 1000 kg of cement. The sustainability credentials of the proposed research are to mitigate the scale of this environmental impact through the delivery of more durable construction, a reduction in the cement content in concrete products, and material efficiency. The ‘innate’ characteristics of our reinforced concrete infrastructure include an inherent resistance to a myriad of deterioration causes e.g. chemical attack, chloride ingress, and mechanical actions e.g. dead and live loads. The proposed research judiciously boosts the innate response of our reinforced concrete infrastructure by explicitly recognising, targeting and reacting to environmental and mechanical threats to structural performance. In this way, there is either no loss, or an enhancement, in structural and durability functions. The deliverables present a unique opportunity for the PI, UK Academia and UK Industry, to establish a world leading capability in a nascent field while addressing Engineering Sustainability priorities for lifetime extension, reduced lifetime costs, energy minimisation and a reduction in over-engineering.

Christopher Jablonski

This article is from the Engineering Department Bulletin.