Flood of investment for UK’s biggest water research group

Sheffield University is one of 14 institutions set to benefit from funding aimed at delivering research on cities and infrastructure via a network of experimental facilities and urban laboratories.

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The University has received a £3.7m investment that will fund research into the better management of distributed water infrastructure at the Sheffield Water Centre, which contains the UK’s largest urban water research group.

The so-called ‘Distributed Urban Water Infrastructure’ facility forms part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), a consortium of 14 UK universities collaborating on all features of infrastructure.

According to the University, the facility will enable researchers from throughout the UK to investigate and develop innovative ways to tackle the UK’s deteriorating distributed water infrastructure.

The full scale facilities will be used to study water and sewer pipes and ancillary structures to investigate deterioration and failure mechanisms, in-pipe biological, chemical and physical processes, flooding, and corrosion processes. The new facility will be located next to the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Simon Tait, Professor of Water Engineering at Sheffield University said: “The facility at Sheffield will be a national resource in which researchers will be able to come and develop new ideas and technologies to help the UK better manage its large water distribution and sewer networks. These are key infrastructure systems that impact on the lives of everyone in the UK and they face pressures from an increasing population, a changing climate and physical deterioration.”

The funding comes from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy via EPSRC as part of a £138m government investment in UKCRIC, which has been established to mitigate the estimated £2m incurred per day as a result of inadequate infrastructure.

UKCRIC will allow academia, industry, government and end users to collaborate to upgrade infrastructure and reduce its cost to the nation.

Prof Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s chief executive, said: “Upgrading the UK’s infrastructure is a key priority and will help to deliver prosperity for the nation.

“UKCRIC provides a unique opportunity for the universities to coordinate on best practice, share data and lessons learned, as well as providing a focus for industrial engagement. It will help to develop a commercial resource with a considerable export potential.”