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Durham University to take part in major EPSRC research facility development in the North East

(27 April 2004)

The School of Engineering at Durham University is to be a partner in a high profile research facility to be constructed in the North-East of England.The EPSRC funded BIONICS (Biological & Engineering Impacts of Climate Change on Slopes) project will establish a unique research facility for civil engineering involving the construction of a full-scale, instrumented soil embankment.

The embankment will be planted with a variety of flora and it will have controlled heating and rainfall applied to the embankment surface. This will allow a multi-disciplinary investigation of the interaction of climate and vegetation on the engineering behaviour of infrastructure earthworks.

The research will have practical implications for road and railway embankments both in the UK and internationally. EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) have awarded a grant of £895,435 to the project which is a collaborative venture between the Universities of Bristol, Dundee, Durham, Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, coordinated by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The BIONICS embankment is to be built at the New and Renewable Energy Centre at Blyth in Northumberland. The six universities will collaborate with a number of leading industrial partners including: British Waterways Board; Skanska Construction UK Ltd; Construction Industry Research & Information Assoc. (CIRIA); Highways Agency; Mott Macdonald UK Ltd; Railway Safety Ltd; Scottish Crop Research Institute; Geotechnical Observations Ltd; Metronet Rail SSL Ltd; Network Rail Ltd; New & Renewable Energy Centre Ltd; Rail Research UK. BIONICS will begin in 2004 and will last for 3 years.

Contact: Dr D.G. Toll, School of Engineering, Durham University. Tel: 0191 334 2388. Fax: 0191 334 2390. Email: Dr D.G.Toll

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