Current Project(s):

1. Smart Fences : Developmenf of a condition monitoring system (CMS) for rockfall catch fences (funded by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and QTS Group Ltd, FEC: £51,000+£40,000 industrial contribution, 2017-2018).

Rockfall catch fences are mechanical structures which are used to protect railway infrastracture in mountain regions from natural falling rocks that can cause significant damages to railways and expose human lives to risk. In order to provide a reliable protection, the serviceability of these fences needs to be continuously checked. In addition, when a rockfall incident occurs, there is a need for a rapid response in order to recover the affected services and to prevent possible complications such as collision between trains and falling rocks. Thus a continuous real-time monitoring is needed for rockfall catch fences. Currently, regular site inspections are conducted to check the serviceability of catch fences along railways. This method is inefficient, expensive and time consuming approach. It cannot guarantee high levels of safety as incidents can happen between inspections. This project aims to design a remote condition monitoring system (CMS) to continuously monitor rockfall catch fences and to provide a real-time warning notification when a rockfall incident occurs. The CMS will be a sensor that is attached to catch fences. When a falling rock impacts the fence, it will be activated by fence vibration and send notifications, using mobile networks, to predefined users and/or to cloud computing. The device will also be equipped with additional features, such as instantaneous measure of the device orientation and/or attached cameras, to confirm the incident. Users will be able to remotely request additional information, such as orientation of the device and/or photos/short videos, to be able to take suitable decisions.

2. Development of an effective and cost-efficient catch fence design (funded by KTP and QTS Group Ltd, FEC: £170,000, 2015-2017).

Catch fence systems consisting of wire meshes, cables and supporting posts are frequently used to control rock fall and debris flow from unstable rock and soil slopes along railways and roads. To date, these systems have been designed primarily by empirical methods, engineering judgment, field tests and experience. Recently, geotechnical specialists and some contractors have found that certain system elements may be over-designed. Meanwhile, some systems have failed under various impact conditions, indicating that certain elements may be under-designed for their desired applications. Though incomplete site investigations and inappropriate construction have been factors for some catch fence system failures, a general understanding in the load transfer and dissipation of impact energy in the systems remains the major design obstacle. This project aims to develop an effective and cost-efficient design for catch fence systems using extensive numerical analysis and full-scale field tests.

We have published several journal and conference papers based on the research in this project (see below). The PDF copies of these papers can be downloaded:

1. Al-Budairi, H., and Gao, Z. (2016). A Robust and Cost-Efficient Design of Lightweight Rockfall Catch Fences for Railways. KTP Associates Conference, Coventry, UK, 26 May 2016 (PDF link-KTP Poster).

2. Al-Budairi, H., Gao, Z., Steel, A., Wheeler, S., and Davies, T. (2016). Modelling and Optimising of a Light-Weight Rockfall Catch Fence System. In: NAFEMS UK Conference 2016, Telford, UK, 15-16 June 2016, pp. 129-132 (PDF link-NAFEM 2016).

3. Al-Budairi, H., Gao, Z., Steel, A., Wheeler, S., and Davies, T. (2017). Improving the Design of Low Energy Lightweight Rockfall Catch Fences. In: 6th Interdisciplinary Workshop on Rockfall Protection, 22-24 May, 2017, Barcelona, Spain (Full paper in PDF).

4. Al-Budairi, H., Gao, Z., Steel, A., Wheeler, S. , and Davies, T. (2017). Condition Monitoring System for Rockfall Catch Fences. In: 6th Interdisciplinary Workshop on Rockfall Protection, 22-24 May, 2017, Barcelona, Spain (PDF link-RockNet 2017 CMS).

3. Suction caisson foundations: Numerical simulation for more cost-efficient and safer design (funded by EPSRC Doctoral Training Account, 2014-2017).

Wind power has long been identified one of the most important potential sources of sustainable and renewable energy. Indeed, UK is considered as one of the best locations in the world or best in Europe for wind power. Wind power delivers a growing fraction of the energy in UK and at the beginning of January 2014, wind power in UK consisted of 5,276 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 10 gigawatts according to the UK Wind Energy Database. The Wind Power database also shows that UK is ranked as the world's sixth largest producer of wind power, having recently overtaken France and Italy. Wind power production is expected to continue growing in UK in the near future. This project aims to carry out numerical studies on the performance of Suction Caisson foundations built on normally consolidated clay subjected to long term cyclic loading.