Sustainable Infrastructure

The railway infrastructure is a significant proportion of rail’s carbon footprint and provides us with ample opportunity to consider:

  • Lower-carbon materials and designs
  • Managing assets more effectively
  • Using AI and data science to underpin decision-making
  • Applying whole-systems-thinking to the railway

The following research themes have been identified to support the movement of decarbonising the railway:

Sustainable smart materials

Development of eco-friendly construction and railway materials that enhance cleaner and lower-carbon infrastructures. Enabling low-carbon materials such as high-damping and self-healing concrete, 3D printing composites, self-sensing materials that can monitor cracks and damage, and using advanced simulations, AI and data science, to understand problems that vibration cause.

Lifecycle performance and forensics

We have embarked on a sustainability-based management of infrastructures throughout the whole asset life. Forensic investigations in each phase of the lifecycle – through design, construction, operation, maintenance and disposal of infrastructure assets. This research will enable the decarbonisation of infrastructures and assets that strike the economic, social and ecological balances. This research has been instrumental in establishing a new ISO Standard for the recycling of rolling stock.

Infrastructure engineering, resilience, reliability and risk

Analysing and quantifying design reliability, taking into account safety, risk and uncertainty, allows engineers to design, construct and maintain infrastructure for operational readiness and resilience in uncertain settings. Innovative solutions to extreme events and uncertain demands, combines theory with practice: structural mechanics and principles of dynamics with field measurements and laboratory experiments, in order to determine robustness, vulnerability and resilience of materials, components and structures.

Research areas include:

  • Sustainable and smart materials
  • Infrastructure engineering and resilience
  • Reliability, risk and uncertainties
  • AI and data sciences
  • Net zero buildings
  • Noise and vibration mitigation
  • Systems thinking for greener infrastructures

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