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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P016863/1
Title: UKCRIC: National Water Infrastructure Facility: Distributed Water Infrastructure
Principal Investigator: Tait, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Collins, Dr R Biggs, Professor CA Mayfield, Professor M
Dodd, Professor TJ Horoshenkov, Professor KV Jensen, Dr HS
Boxall, Professor J Black, Dr J Thornton, Dr SF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil and Structural Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 April 2016 Ends: 19 May 2017 Value (£): 3,687,513
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Water Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK water sector faces very significant challenges: increasing population, higher customer expectations, better protection of the natural environment, with reducing resource availability and uncertain climate change. These pressures particularly combine in urban areas where the majority of the UK's citizens live and which are served by large and increasingly unsustainable and inflexible "legacy" water and drainage systems. These large legacy systems are a deteriorating asset in which there have been long term reductions in real terms investment. In the UK, inferred sewer and clean water asset design lives are 800+ and 120+ years, respectively. Yet with the current average asset life of around 70 years we are already experiencing unacceptable levels of service. The current premise of operating urban water systems with continual, gradual deterioration is no longer acceptable. If we wish to avoid massive future bills for wholesale renewal of our water infrastructure we urgently need to understand deterioration and develop innovative ways of monitoring and intervening.

Water utilities are traditionally cautious innovation adopters given the significant potential health and environmental implications of their actions. Appreciating this and the long term pressures facing the UK's (and international) water infrastructure systems it is clear that there is an urgent need for more scientifically based approaches and better evidenced technologies to meet future expectations without a significant economic burden on water users.

UKCRIC will enhance research capacities in the following areas at three of the UK's leading urban water research groups (Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield Universities) to address this issue.

1. Surface water management and smart water systems (Newcastle University): A new surface water management facility with equivalent urban infrastructure test-beds for energy, transport and ICT will be delivered. The facility will be modular so components can be tested in isolation, in series to model urban water as it moves from the roof to the river .

2. Distributed water infrastructure (University of Sheffield): A new specially designed water asset failure and deterioration facility will enable full scale experimentation of water and sewer pipes and ancillary structures to study deterioration and failure mechanisms, in-pipe biological/chemical and physical processes, flooding and corrosion processes and the assessment of asset condition under realistic environments. The existing world leading facilities of the Pennine Water Group at Sheffield will be enhanced with improved measurement capabilities.

3. Wastewater and potable water treatment (Cranfield University): A new potable water pilot hall will enhance the existing suite of industrial-scale test facilities. The facility will support research on the interdependencies between treatment and distribution processes, on condition monitoring & performance technologies. A breakthrough innovation hub will provide flexible space for design, rapid prototyping and testing of novel infrastructure components and sub-systems, visualisation facilities will provide access to sensor data from both on and off campus infrastructure systems providing opportunities for advances in analytics and testing

The aim of the UKCRIC facilities is to provide a collaborative, world-class research infrastructure that will allow UK researchers and innovators in the water sector to come together share ideas and then benefit from access to world class laboratories to develop and demonstrate those concepts so and to get them to a level of maturity appropriate for implementation to achieve long term impact on the UK's water infrastructure. This new knowledge, evidence and innovation will impact on our current urban water systems by reducing the risk of failure, reducing their environmental impact and reducing the likelihood of unacceptably high future investment.

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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk