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Institute for Resilient Infrastructure

Infrastructure underpins modern societies like never before. Furthermore, this infrastructure is increasingly interconnected, such that flooding may affect power supplies, which in turn affect transport or health services. 

Meanwhile, the challenges and threats facing infrastructure are many; varying in terms of their geographical scale, their extent and speed at which they occur. For example, terrorist attacks may be localised, catastrophic and sudden, while flooding poses different problems, over wider areas. Society also faces longer-term threats from problems such as climate change and associated problems. 

This “interconnectedness” of infrastructure means that research questions are often no longer one-dimensional, but require approaching form many perspectives and disciplines. The Institute for Resilient Infrastructure aims to help address some of these problems. Our objective is ensuring that the physical infrastructure systems underpinning our way of life can adapt to changes,both in the way we use them and in the social and physical environment in which they are created, designed, built and operated.

The scope of the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure is interdisciplinary, and covers the interactions between and impact of disciplines from the engineering, environmental, economic, community/societal and political domains on the whole life performance of infrastructure assets. The team includes academics from a broad range of engineering disciplines.

Recent projects include:

Shaking tunnel vision
Tunnels are increasingly important as urban communities look towards underground space for their future infrastructure. This project will design and install tunnel monitoring systems to understand repeated seismic loading, thus developing an engineering-risk-based disaster management approach for tunnels in seismic areas.

Balancing the impact of city infrastructure engineering on natural systems using robots
This project envisages a city where infrastructure is autonomously maintained and dynamically responsive. The project has set itself the grand challenge of having zero disruption from streetworks in UK Cities by 2050. The interdisciplinary are performing pioneering scientific research into robotic systems for minimally invasive infrastructure sensing, diagnosis and repair; development of advanced robots for deployment in complex live city environments; and the socio-technical intricacy of the robot - human - natural systems interfaces. 

Urban flood resilience in an uncertain future
This project will develop models investigating how stormwater (including sediments and debris) cascades through a city's drainage system. Based on these models, we will investigate how the performance of grey systems (composed mainly of lined channels, pipes and detention tanks) can be improved by adding Blue-Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) to create treatment trains designed to manage both the quantity and quality of urban runoff. The modelling will be coupled with studies into citizen and community preferences with respect to managing flood risk. In short, engineering solutions must be better informed and explicitly accounted for in urban planning and development at all spatial scales. 

Complex value optimisation for resource recovery from waste (C-VORR)
Our modern industrial society produces increasing amounts of waste. Yet many of these wastes might either contain useful materials or could themselves be used as an input for another process. Common approaches to waste management involve waste collection and sorting, with resource recovery options often being a piece of technology simply 'bolted on' to the end of the process. The main concern is often whether the process is cost-effective and often assuming that because we are recovering resources, the environmental impact is automatically good. But this is not necessarily so. This project is a close collaboration between academics and industry, looking at processes that produce waste; not just at the 'end of the pipe', but throughout the whole system. We will examine the flows of materials through these systems and see how their 'complex value' - the balance of their economic, social, environmental and health benefits and impacts - changes as we adjust the system. 

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail, contact the Institute Director: Dr Leon Black or the Deputy Director: Dr Yong Sheng.

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students including a number of studentships. Informal enquiries can be made to the Institute Director.

View all members of the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure.