Project topics overview

TopicDescriptionSupervisors
1A catalog with sustainable and smart solutions for pavements of the futureRoads and their interaction with vehicles greatly impact the environment (use of materials) and public health (noise, emissions, road crashes). These reasons justify looking for sustainable and smart paving technologies and new paving-related functionalities.

The main aim of the project is to propose an interactive catalog where the existing and under-study technologies and functionalities are listed together with their objective, description, scope of application, expected impacts, among other features.

Making use of simple tools, the proposal coming from this work will be both a technical contribution and a pedagogical tool to disseminate the choice possibilities for implementing sustainable road pavements.
Prof. Elisabete Freitas & dr. Iran Segundo
2Structures for Sustainable Oceans and the Oceans DecadeNowadays one of the major challenges that humanity faces is related to the degradation of oceans and marine systems due to anthropogenic impacts. Since most of the biodiversity and biomass of the planet still lies in the oceans, the subsistence of humans is inevitably dependant on healthy oceans. Therefore the need to take decisive action to guarantee the sustainable use of oceans is urgent.
Part of the problem may be tackled by changing the strategies and approaches currently adopted regarding the constructed environment in the oceans. Alternative materials and structures, less impactfull, more resilient and durable, may contribute to mitigate some of the challenges faced nowadays. These systems may be even used as part of strategies to restore ecosystems, abundance and biodiversity.
After a general study about existing nature-based or bioinspired artificial solutions aimed at restoring marine systems, this project aims at conceiving and designing structures as part of innovative solutions to reduce the anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems and global changes. This aim will be achieved based on a case study selected and developed by the students, where a proof of concept will be carried out in order to quantify the positive impact of the strategy developed.
Prof. Eduardo B. Pereira
3Sustainable and long-life pavementsModern pavement design should incorporate the concept of sustainability in all its elements. Additionally, pavements should be designed as long-life, i.e minimum 40 years design lifetime. Sustainable and long-life pavement design should take into account the pavement performance throughout its lifetime and should include considerations for materials, construction, use, maintenance and/or rehabilitation and end of life. Considerations of costs, environmental impacts and social needs is also of major importance.
The main aim of the project is to familiarize the participants with the concept of sustainable and long-life pavements. Additionally, the project participants will be called to gather information for all elements implicated in the design of such pavements and finally to actually design a sustainable and long-life pavement.
In terms of learning outcomes, the project will provide the participants with the knowledge and hands on, first experience in designing a sustainable long-life pavement.
Prof. E. Manthos
4Biobinders and bioasphalts: Research and use in the modern pavement industryNowadays, the asphalt pavement industry is exploring different sustainable alternative binders, owing to the diminishing reserves of crude oil and the global necessity for green industrial practices. Although the development and application of the whole range of bio-binders as potential replacers or modifiers of crude-based binder is in a primal stage, a series of a noteworthy studies, proposing divergent types of bio-resources (animal waste , corn stover, urban yard waste, tea and coffee residue, rapeseed and soybeans etc.) as useful sustainable components for bio-binder and consequently bioasphalt production, have been published.
The main aim of the project is to familiarize the participants with the concepts of biobinders and bioasphalts. The project participants will be called to gather information out of the relevant worldwide literature for ongoing applications of biobinders and bioasphalts, and recognize the relevant future perspectives and challenges.
In terms of learning outcomes, the project will provide the participants with all the relevant information for the use of biobinders and bioasphalts and will intrigue the participants to use them in their future engineering practices.
Prof. E. Manthos
5Clean technologiesDescription:
Clean technologies is a means to create electricity and fuels, with a smaller environmental impact and minimize pollution. It is normally used to make green buildings, transport and infrastructure with a more efficient and environmentally benign energy.

Scope:
Cleantech represents a diverse range of products, services, and processes, all intended to:
● Provide superior performance at lower costs
● Reduce or eliminate negative ecological impact
● Make more efficient and responsible use of natural resources
● Encourage utilization of residues, recyclable waste and local materials as raw materials for conversion processes
● Provide local employment
● Improve the quality of life

Objectives and significance of the project:
So that clean technologies can achieve economic benefit, we should think about the next points:
● Search for options to reach to a cleaner production
● Decide for strategies to promote clean technologies
● Where can clean technologies be applied?
We can look for techniques and/or devices to maintain clean water, air, wastes, resources, energy, noise…
Prof. Vanessa García Marina
6Sustainable industrial pavilions and sustainable architectureDescription:
Sustainable building involves taking into account the entire life cycle of buildings, taking into account their environmental quality, their functional quality and their future use value. In the past, attention has focused primarily on economic value as real estate.
Scope:
The rational use of natural resources and the appropriate management of the building’s infrastructure and facilities will contribute to energy conservation and improve environmental quality.
Objectives and significance of the project:
Some ideas we should think about are the following:
● Efficient use of resources
● Efficient use of energy (including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions)
● Pollution prevention (including improvement of indoor air quality and reduction of noise)
● Harmony with the environment (including environmental assessment)
● Integrated and systemic approaches (including an environmental management program)
Prof. Vanessa García Marina
7Diminution of visual impact of infrastructuresDescription:
Today one of the main concerns in architecture is ecology. Building green buildings is becoming essential in this polluted society. The next step is to blend the buildings with the environment. To achieve this, one of the methods that is being used is to bury the buildings and separate them as far as possible. Another way is to apply the concepts of ecology to the building, by integrating grass and other vegetation. These buildings today are achieving visual impact and modernity. A society concerned with the environment needs significant buildings.
Scope:
One of the main scopes of visual impact is to identify how infrastructures generate visual impact (color change, shape change, size change, illumination change, conglomeration, hiding, etc), and how can one assess this visual impact (US Environmental Protection Agency, isovist method, Monbailliu, simulation techniques, Multi-parameter visibility method, etc).
Objectives and significance of the project:
We should search for methods to reduce the visual impact, and improve the environment by reducing it. There are preventive and corrective measures and improvements could be mentioned considering among others migratory customs, image of the city or landscape, or application of vegetation.
Prof. Vanessa García Marina
8Sustainable and Resilient Pavements in the Port AreaDescription and scope:
Road pavements in port areas are subjected to heavy-loaded trucks and the occasional presence of off-road vehicles like reach stackers and straddle carriers. These heavy loads require thick structures composed of high-quality materials, which often results in pavements with a relatively high environmental impact. At the same time, the importance of freight movement on the economy requires these pavements to be resilient to avoid distresses and traffic closures derived from the action of environmental factors such as extreme temperatures and rainfall events.

Objective and significance of the project:
The objective of this project is to identify ways to reduce the environmental impact of port pavements while ensuring a high degree of resilience to environmental factors. In 2021 a test track was constructed in the port of Antwerp with sensors and different types of materials and structures. In this project findings and recommendations from this test track project will be applied in a comparative study using experimental data, structural design methods and literature.

During the stay in Antwerp, the tracks and labs will be visited.
The project will contribute towards sustainable asphalt pavements for port areas.
Prof. Wim Van den bergh & dr. David Hernando
9Design strategies for bridges related to structural and circularity principlesThe objective of this project is to explore and give an overview and interrelation of design strategies for bridges is, including structural morphology, structural materialisation and optimization; the design for circularity of materials and components
A state-of-the-art of current design principles for bridges will be presented accompanied by specific examples. Additionally, the need for new design strategies in order to improve their sustainability, will be illustrated. The objective is to create awareness of the significant role of engineers in the development of these new design strategies.
Ass. Prof. Kostas Anastasiades &
Prof. Johan Blom
10The use of (non-)destructive test methods in order to estimate actual service life of concrete constructionsDescription and scope:
The service life of constructions depends on the state and maintenance of the critical parts which are subjected to climatic, chemical and structural (loading) conditions. In order to estimate near, in time and durable maintenance, it is crucial to conduct effective diagnosis.

Objectives:
The objective of this project is to elaborate a damage diagnostics report of a concrete construction, based on real experiments. First a case will be selected, e.g.where carbonation is the dominant damage mechanism, data of the structure will be gathered, the structure will be inspected (student @ antwerp and later a visit during the BIP week), field testing (or a demo) and an assessment will be elaborated with recommendations for repair.

Significance of the project:
Effective maintenance will increase the durability and sustainability factor of concrete structures.
Prof. Bart Craeye
11How CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) and EV (Electric Vehicles) are likely to change our mobility.Scope:
CAV use will change our current outlook and mobility in many ways. Electric Vehicles will mean a sharp decrease in overall fossil fuels demand, and a very relevant increase in power production and distribution. This changes will happen if society as a whole benefits from the implementation of these vehicles enough to justify the spread of this tools and techniques. It is currently assumed that the change will affect most of the network, but that needs not be the case.
Goals:
The first goal of this project are to start by studying how railways, first, and electric engines, second, changed the world as a new transportation mode appeared, and how technological change improved it. In both cases, the justification for increased costs will be looked up, to learn lessons from our past history in order to better understand how this change may help us predict how this impending change will affect us.
Then, an attempt to paint a portrait of new demands on CAV and EV mobility will be described, as well as how this change may happen over the network, which links are likely to see change first and how the world may look 40-50 years after these vehicles are a reality.
Prof. Manuel Romana
12Increasing tunnel resiliency and reducing their life cycle impact. The impact of new technologies.Scope:
Tunnels are in the rise all over the world, and many more will be built in the next decades. This will happen in places where now there are few tunnels, as they develop, and also in developed areas, due to the many advantages of going underground for many urban and mountain facilities.
Tunnel construction and operation involves a handful of techniques and procedures which have a known impact in tunnel life cycle and performance. In Road and Railway tunnels, the required equipment increases every decade.
Goals:
The main goal of this project is to produce a catalog of tunnel related activities for civil infrastructures, grading their actual impact in life cycle and the potential for change in the near future.
Increased focus will be on construction and supply activities, and new future add-ons and materials to improve efficiency and lower the environmental impacts of tunnel planning, construction and maintenance.
If there is enough interest from the students. A subproject will be developed on tunnel materials, such as shotcrete, reinforcement fibers, construction automation, cables and electric elements.
Prof. Manuel Romana & Alejandro Enfedaque
13Sustainable approach to retrofitting of existing buildingsDescription and scope:
There are many actions which can be taken to improve energy efficiency of existing buildings. The scope is to prepare a report which puts together the actual state of existing buildings and show possible improvements to minimize their environmental impact through energy demand reduction and use of renewable energy sources with taking thermal comfort into account.
Objectives:
Study the current situation of existing buildings, in different European countries, in terms of energy efficiency taking their age, technical condition, used construction types, thermal insulations and technical systems for heating/cooling and domestic hot water production into account. Prepare a catalogue of possible retrofitting actions which can be taken in terms of reducing the energy demand in buildings, enabling the possibility of renewable energy sources use. Create a procedure which could be used as a guide to the best possible scenario of retrofitting actions for given building (how to start, what should be done, in which order, how can we measure the impact of improvements, what should be avoided etc.). A final test of the procedure would be an implementation of it in a case study of existing building retrofitting.
Significance of the project:
To achieve sustainability goals we need to reduce the energy demand in existing buildings . As we know, buildings are responsible for about 40% of energy demand and thus for C02 emissions. To face future “zero emission” goals we need to find a way to improve the existing buildings in terms of their energy efficiency by use of solutions which should correspond to the building location, economical status and local law regulations.
Prof. Mariusz Szóstak & Prof. Łukasz Nowak
14Including pavement albedo effects in pavement life cycle assessmentDescription and scope:
The methodology of pavement life cycle assessment (LCA) has advanced rapidly, extending from a typical cradle-to-gate scope to include those often omitted effects in the use phase of pavements, such as pavement albedo effects. Albedo is the ratio of solar radiation reflected by a pavement surface to the amount it reflects. It ranges from 0 (complete absorption) to 1 (complete reflection). Changes in pavement albedo can affect the climate in several ways. First, increased pavement albedo results in more solar reflected into space and less remaining on the Earth, thus leading to increased outgoing radiation and thus reduced global warming potential. Second, pavements with a higher albedo reflect more incident radiation onto the nearby buildings, thus leading to changes in building energy consumption. Last, increasing pavement albedo reduces the ambient temperature within the urban canyon, thus leading to contradictory effects to the effects induced by increased incident radiation. There are several ways to engineer high-reflectivity asphalt pavements, such as using light-color aggregate, light-color painting, thermochromic asphalt. However, the environmental impacts of these new materials are rarely studied in pavement life cycle assessment.
Objective and significance of the project:
In response to these challenges, we will quantify the effects of pavement albedo change and include our learnings in pavement life cycle assessment. We will select several representative reflective asphalt pavement designs and quantify the environmental impacts of implementing these new designs. More specifically, we will pursue the following sub-objectives:
(1) review and survey suitable reflective asphalt pavement designs;
(2) characterize the cooling mechanisms of reflective asphalt pavement;
(3) quantify the environmental costs and savings of selected reflective asphalt pavement designs;
(4) integrate pavement albedo effects into pavement life cycle assessment. The project will contribute to a better understanding of the trade-offs and benefits of sustainable practices beyond material production and pavement construction stages.
Prof. Zhi Cao