Case studies

We have a history of working together with local, national and international industry and organisations to generate sustainable, innovative solutions through a range of services.

Low carbon smart pipes project

Aquaspira branded test pipe

The low carbon smart pipes project will contribute to construction sector decarbonisation.

Funded via a grant from Innovate UK, the £269,000, 9-month research programme has the potential to make a significant step-change in helping the construction sector achieve Government decarbonisation targets.

The programme is led by the North-West firm AquaSpira and will support the development of composite plastic and steel drainage and storm water pipes, incorporating high levels of recycled material. Sensor technology built into the pipes will detect and report changes in environmental conditions, enabling infrastructure problems to be rapidly identified and rectified.

Experts at the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering are working with Aquaspira on the development of the sensing technology and the pipes will be tested at the University of Birmingham and the National Buried Infrastructure Facility.

Testing comprises two stages – above ground deformation tests (see below) and below ground deformation tests. The pipe is instrumented with a range of optical fibre strain sensors, classical strain sensors and Linear Variable Differential Transducer.

Researcher in hi-viz jacket standing in a pit, next to a pipe

The below ground experiment also has additional soil sensors to better understand the loading on the pipe. We have already demonstrated the benefit of the collaboration winning the Pipeline Industries Guild (PIG) iICE Award (Inspiring Innovation, Cost-Saving and Efficiency). The award, presented biannually is for the best idea for increasing efficiency and reducing costs in the pipeline industry.

The benefit of our collaboration is also clearly expressed in the video below:

Working with Aquaspira on low carbon smart pipes

Using optical fibres to monitor sprayed concrete lining with BeMo

Researcher standing next to pipe fitted with optical fibre to monitor condition of concrete liningBeMo and the University of Birmingham have conducted a laboratory experiment at NBIF to evaluate the use of optical fibres to replace automated Total Stations and optical targets to monitor the performance of sprayed concrete lining during construction.

Both the traditional displacement measurement and optical fibre strain data were used in a utilisation index used to estimate the residual capacity of the sprayed concrete lining and compared. The results demonstrated that optical fibres provide a much richer data environment than discrete point targets and could replace these in the future. This has the potential to provide not only enhanced data during tunnel construction, but also during the operational lifetime of the tunnel thereby having a significant impact on improvements to proactive maintenance thereby ensuring improved health and safety and economic benefits.

The collaboration is introduced in the video below:

BeMo and the University of Birmingham have conducted a laboratory experiment at NBIF to evaluate the use of optical fibres to monitor the performance of sprayed concrete lining during construction