Pioneering vaulted thin shell floor cuts concrete by 75%

Aaron Morby 5 months ago
Share

UK engineers have developed a new vaulted-style, thin-shell concrete floor that uses 75% less material than a traditional flat slab floor.

Full-scale 4.5m x 4.5m thin-shell building erected at Cambridge University’s civil engineering department.
Full-scale 4.5m x 4.5m thin-shell building erected at Cambridge University’s civil engineering department.

The innovative design is being trumpeted as a major advance in the industry’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

An interdisciplinary team of structural engineers, mathematicians and manufacturing experts from the Universities of Bath, Cambridge and Dundee has unveiled a full-scale demonstration of a thin-shell floor, which uses 60% less carbon in its construction than the standard flat slab design carrying the same load.

 

The curved vault-shaped structure is covered by standard raised floor panels to create a level surface.

Created by the UKRI-funded ACORN – Automating Concrete Construction – research project, the innovative floor design takes advantage of concrete’s inherent natural properties and strengths.

Dr Paul Shepherd, a Reader in Bath’s Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering and the principal investigator for ACORN, said: “Since concrete is the world’s most widely consumed material after water, and its production contributes more than 7% of global CO2emissions, the easiest way for construction to begin its journey to net-zero is to use less concrete.

“That has been the driving force behind this project, which we hope could make a major difference to the impact of construction.”

The ACORN team has in parallel developed an automated adaptable mould and a robotic concrete spraying system that can be used in off-site factory production.

Alongside this new style of fabrication, the team has also developed bespoke software to optimise floors for a given building design.

The prototype floor design is split into nine transportable pieces with a connection system to join the pieces together.

Reversible joints allow the floor to be disassembled and reused elsewhere at the end of the building’s life, promoting a circular economy for the construction industry.

Dr Shepherd said “After three years of research it is amazing to see the fruits of all our hard work. I just hope that one day soon this type of low-carbon automatically manufactured building becomes so widespread that people walk by without noticing.”

Adam Locke, programme leader of the Europe Hub Technology & Innovation at Laing O’Rourke, one of the ACORN partners, added: “The ACORN Demonstrator is a very useful stepping-stone in the progressive pathway to decarbonizing our solutions and compliments very well our own work in this area.”

 

Latest news

M&E contractor Kershaw went down owing subbies £10m

More than 400 firms left holding unpaid invoices
6 hours ago

Green light for UK’s first plastic recycling park

£165m park in Cheshire will recycle 367,500 tonnes of plastic
7 hours ago

Go-ahead for two Tilbury Douglas hospital jobs

Wirrall and Stockport hospital A&E jobs together worth nearly £60m
6 hours ago

Eight contractors trailblaze concrete carbon reduction plan

Firms pledge to switch to 30% low emission concrete by 2025
19 hours ago

Red Construction lands London Victoria office overhaul

St James's Park building will be extended up by two floors in overhaul
5 hours ago

Six locations shortlisted for Great British Railways HQ

Site for national HQ narrows to Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and York
24 hours ago

Kit maker Genie fined after M25 work platform death fall

Court hears how calibration error led to death of worker when 40 metre high mobile elevating work platform collapsed
1 day ago

O’Connor Utilities sold to private equity

OCU Group reported to have fetched around £400m
2 days ago

Rolls-Royce shortlists sites for first SMR factory

Three factories will make reactor, civils and MEP modules for SMR nuclear power stations
1 day ago

£233m loan kick starts £3.5bn regen of Royal Docks site

Infrastructure loan paves way for 6,000-home East London Silvertown scheme
1 day ago

Henry Construction wins £33m Oxford housing estate rebuild

Contractor signs off first deal with A2Dominion
1 day ago

Carillion collapse hospital hit by more construction delays

Balfour will take another 18 months to complete Midland Met scheme
2 days ago

Leeds college launches new construction and football course

Students can now combine site and tech skills with learning at a football academy
1 day ago

Willmott Dixon blasts new Building Safety law

Rick Willmott accuses Government of scapegoating construction over its own regulatory failure
2 days ago

£550m plan to redevelop The Galleries centre in Bristol

Shopping centre building to be demolished for major mixed-use scheme
2 days ago

Costain cancels supply chain event on £260m road job

Preparation work for A1 upgrade stalls as Transport Secretary dithers over approval
2 days ago

£170m London Holborn Circus office approved

Demolition work set to start in the autumn for 10-storey office block
2 days ago

City leaders launch net zero construction skills drive

City of London leader warns "skills gap and labour shortage are threats to our net zero ambitions"
2 days ago

Marlborough Highways lands £32m Islington civils deal

Contractor to help with north London borough's green drive
2 days ago

Osborne makes £45m construction loss

Sale of infrastructure business balances books as contractor looks for zero-carbon wins
5 days ago

John F Hunt forecasts record revenue and profits this year

Demolition contractor back on strong financial footing after previously setting aside £5.6m for bid rigging probe
5 days ago

Notting Hill Genesis names £2.8bn framework winners

26 firms land places on main contractor deal: Full list
5 days ago

Green light for dual hotel scheme at Nine Elms

Two new hotel towers will share common basement
5 days ago

Trials start on cement-free pre-cast piles

Aarsleff is hopeful a product will come to the market shortly
5 days ago

Ex-Telford Homes boss to run green house builder

Jon Di-Stefano takes helm at M&G backed Greencore Construction
5 days ago

Subcontractors told to stop work on Brymor sites

£80m revenue southern contractor files letter of intent to enter administration
6 days ago

House builder Chartway sold to private equity firm

Cabot Square Capital signs another major construction deal
6 days ago

Murphy Group appoints new chairman

Capita chairman and investment banker John Cresswell to start in November
6 days ago

Tolent seals £40m Newcastle ‘future-living’ housing job

135-home Vaux scheme will be first of four neighbourhoods totalling 1,000 homes
6 days ago

Cruden takes first job at £1.3bn Edinburgh Waterfront scheme

Preferred bidder named for first 750 net zero homes at new Granton Waterfront coastal town
6 days ago

Contractor services