Transport and Energy Infrastructures
The Transport and Energy Infrastructure supported by the past and recent experience on the study of materials, test methods, modeling and structural performance of geo and pavement materials and structures, as well as noise evaluation of road pavements, will focus the future activities divided in fundamental and applied research. The fundamental research will be on geo and road materials by using multiphysics approaches. The applied research will be focused on: development of novel materials; advanced characterization of geo and road materials; device for the study of reflective cracking based on the wheel tracking test; evaluating ground geotechnical parameters using advanced optimization techniques; study of cracking propagation; field evaluation and performance predictions of different soil improvement technologies and structures (pavements, rail track for high speed trains, foundations, slopes, tunnels, underground excavations and RCC dams) using data mining and stochastic approach. It also covers sustainable mobility of transports addressing activities for noise abatement, safety and sustainability.
Cluster 1: Sustainable mobility of transports
The main objective of the cluster “sustainable mobility of transports” is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life,in general, and to establish a link between the structural and functional performance of transport infrastructures, including the users and vehicle interaction and the emission of pollutants to the environment.
In fact, there will be no quality of life without highly liable transport infrastructures, namely in terms of its structural and functional performance, which directly influences the technical, economical and environmental sustainability.
Specific objectives address areas which are evolving related to:
1. noise abatement (working at the tyre/road interaction, developing improved innovative and cost-effective, durable and sustainable surface layers; developing prevision models of traffic noise impacts on road design procedures; rating comfortdiscomfort levels induced by noise from the interaction surfacetyre; developing guidelines on the optimal noise levels and types to accomplish both acceptable levels of auditive comfort and of accurate vehicles speed detection relevant for road safety);
2. safety (developing an integrated speed management methodology applicable to: planning; geometrical and operational design; developing models to estimate free and average speeds and accident prediction models in two lane roads, developing intelligent signalling systems; studying the drivers perception of road characteristics, pavement condition and weather condition);
3. sustainability (studying the influence of maintenance and/or rehabilitation operations on the user costs, in a life cycle analysis; assessing the embodied energy in the maintenance techniques used in different maintenance strategies; developing solutions to capture air pollutants in the infrastructure pavement; evaluating the possibility of implementing energy production systems in transport infrastructures, in order to take advantage of the vehicle mobility).
Cluster 2: Modelling, design and management of transport and energy infrastructures
This cluster includes the modeling, design and managementof transport and energy infrastructures using numerical methods, mainly associated to probabilistic analyses and back analyses for geotechnical works. The back analyses include the use of advanced techniques based on genetic and evolutionary algorithms for identification of the material parameters. Data Mining techniques are also applied, mainly to geotechnical works.
The main research subjects covered by the staff of the cluster:are:
1. Tunnels and underground works;
2. Pile foundations;
3. Roads, railways and transition zones (bridgeembankment);
4. Roller-compacted concrete Dams;
5. Soil Improvement by consolidation works, jet grouting and cutter soil mixing;
6. Slope stability;
7. Development of an intelligent systems for optimization in planning and control of earthmoving operations;
8. Develop 3D FEM models incorporating elastoplastic cyclic constitutive laws of geomaterials and dynamic loading effects;
9. Application of the viscoelasticity in the modelling of the road pavements;
10. Study of cracking in pavements using (i) the effective strain approach; (ii) the continuum damage theory;
11. Consideration of the fatigue, reflective and top-down cracking in road pavement design;
12. Application of reduced loading cycles in the prediction of long lasting pavements;
13. Definition of strategies for the rehabilitation and management of perpetual pavements.
Cluster 3: Characterization and modelling of materials in transport and energy infrastructures
This cluster includes the characterization and modeling of materials in transport and energy infrastructures. These materials studied are: soils, rocks, heterogeneous materials (soil and rocks), road paving materials, aggregates (including ballasts), stabilized materials and waste and recycled materials. One of the main objectives of this research cluster is to promote the use of waste materials and study innovative and sustainable materials, particularly bituminous mixtures.
The main research subjects covered by the staff of the cluster are:
1- Develop triaxial systems for stress path control and cyclic loading over large specimens;
2- Develop on sample instrumentation techniques (e.g. local deformation transducers, piezoelectric transducers, accelerometers) to better describe geomaterial response in low strain domain;
3- Improve laboratory characterization of rock specimens. In particular the application of innovative methods for the evaluation of dynamic characteristic using “bender elements” is planned. The results of these tests will be validated in collaboration with the LNEC.
4- Numerical simulations of laboratory test results by means of cyclic elastoplastic constitutive laws able to reproduce geomaterial complex behavior, as well as using discontinuous models for rocks;
5- Microanalysis (mechanical, physical, chemical, rheological) of stabilized soils and bituminous mixtures and their components, as well as the study of the interaction between materials (surface energy of interfaces during mutual contact);
6- Advanced evaluation of stabilized soils, bituminous binders, aggregates and additives, at macroscopic and micro scales. The micro and macroscopic properties will be used to numerically model the stabilized soils and bituminous mixtures;
7- Recycling of Asphalt Pavements using Asphalt Modified by Crumb Rubber Recycled from Used Tires;
8- Promote processed steel slags in geotechnical and infrastructure works, by laboratory studies and field experiments;
9- Extend the use of artificial intelligence techniques to predict laboratory and field material behavior, as well as compaction process.