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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G029946/1
Title: Pipe Dreams
Principal Investigator: Boxall, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Cranfield University UK Water Industry Research Ltd Yorkshire Water
Department: Civil and Structural Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 27 June 2009 Ends: 26 December 2014 Value (£): 904,118
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Civil Engineering Materials Ground Engineering
Waste Management Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Water
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Aug 2008 Challenging Engineering Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In the developed world most people are able to take the supply of safe clean drinking water for granted, most of the time. However water quality failures do occur and there are associated health risks. The analysis of water samples, taken at the customers tap by the UK Water Industry to meet regulatory requirements, has shown that for three consecutive years approximately 1 in every 200 samples failed to meet the standards for coliforms, an indicator of faecal contamination. The few epidemiologic studies in the area confirm that there is a problem and that it is related to the pipe infrastructure. This pipe infrastructure, used to deliver this basic human resource, is an extremely complicated mix of materials, pipe sizes and structures and appurtenances that are connected in a network, usually in loops, developed in a piecemeal manner over considerable time. This infrastructure is integral to our towns and cities and widespread replacement is unfeasible due to the associated costs and disruption. Whi1e there is existing knowledge and tools for understanding and making some predictions of the structural performance of these assets, the knowledge and applicable understanding of their water quality related performance is extremely poor.This system of buried infrastructure acts as a dynamic physical, microbiological and chemical reactor, with high surface area and with highly variable residence times. As a consequence there are a number of major and interacting physical and bio-chemical processes that degrade the quality of drinking water as it is transported. The situation is further complicated by the unknown, but deteriorating, internal condition of the infrastructure. This Challenging Engineering vision will enable the applicant to establish a world leading multidisciplinary team to derive new knowledge of the physical bio-chemical reactions and interactions occurring within water distribution systems, dominated by the aging infrastructure. The team will integrate across engineering and microbiological, chemical and computer science. Extensive use will be made of the latest instrumentation and measurement techniques from the different disciplines, applied to experimental studies on the internationally unique, 600m long temperature controlled pipe test loop facility at the University of Sheffield and ambitious live field trials with UK water companies (both areas of particular expertise of the applicant). The new understanding and knowledge gained will be applied to develop a suite of analysis and predictive tools to drive a paradigm shift in the way in which water distribution systems are operated, managed, rehabilitated and maintained for water quality with a move towards proactive management operating in near real time.The project is extremely ambitious, but presents the opportunity for the UK to establish an area of international expertise and to lead the world in an expanding research area of public interest and significance. The most apparent output will be superior water quality at least cost, consistent with the demands of an increasingly well informed society, leading to enhanced public health and well being. In the longer term, the multidisciplinary team will evolve by seeking to further develop the multidisciplinary approach for the even more complex environments of the complete urban water cycle and seek to stimulate further change for integrated, holistic and sustainable management across the cycle.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Summary
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk