Current EU strategies, the climate action and the European Green Deal require infrastructure to be provided in an economical and environmentally responsible manner, reducing material use, embedded carbon and other impacts on the natural environment and ecosystems. Innovative, low-carbon, sustainable solutions will therefore be needed for the maintenance an upgrading of ageing transport infrastructure facilities to meet future needs and the changing environmental loads due to climate change. Opportunities for transformative processes arise from advances in understanding and harnessing nature-based processes. The use of such processes in geotechnical engineering practice is relatively new and underexplored. Before industrial adoption field applications of the techniques are required to prove their practical viability, long-term sustainability and whole life costs.
The aim of this research is thus to realise exciting new bio-based processes in situ as a viable, sustainable method of improving existing infrastructure earthworks. For this the UK railway network is used as a case study. The research comprises the development of exciting novel processes in the laboratory, their numerical modelling before upscaled application in the field, and a pilot field study application of the novel techniques on a railway embankment. Following this, the techniques will be evaluated in terms of environmental impact and whole life costs. This will lead to practical guidelines for industry, fostering the transfer of new technologies to engineering practice in order to address industry and EU priorities for low-carbon nature-based solutions and bio-economy.
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