Structures and materials testing

The structures testing facilities are split into two distinct types to allow testing of a wide variety of different structural forms.

Large scale fatigue for road bridges

A self-reacting steel frame of 120 tonne load capacity has been built ad hoc to house road bridge specimens up to 8 metres long and almost 4 metres (roughly the width of a traffic lane) wide. The facility has been designed to apply, to any bridge specimen that it accommodates, the full levels of fatigue loads over the actual numbers of fatigue cycles specified in current structural design codes for bridges. Tyre effects are simulated via pulsating loads on the specimen from a network of servo-hydraulic actuators connected to the frame. By programming the actuators to operate sequentially, the movement of an entire lorry along the bridge may be closely approximated. Currently, a bridge specimen comprising a light, corrosion-resistant, modular fibre reinforced polymer deck adhesively bonded to pre-tensioned concrete beams is being subjected to ten million fatigue load cycles within the frame.

Frame for pilot testing

There is a 100 tonne capacity frame for pilot tests on beam-type specimens up to 5 metres long. This frame has been used to test the concept of a novel green form of construction entailing a limecrete (lime concrete) slab connected to timber beams via timber studs.

Heavy and light test facilities

In addition to the reconfigurable test area there are a comprehensive range of test machines with capacities from 4 tonnes to 600 tonnes. All the test machines use a common Instron controller allowing researchers to easily move between machines as their research demands. The majority of the test machines can apply both tensile and compressive dynamic loading to specimens.

Materials testing

A range of machines are used to test soils, masonry, concrete, timber, steel, plastics and composites of all types to help explain how materials behave, and how they will respond to environmental conditions when used in engineering structures. For example these machines have recently been used to investigate the cyclic behaviour of corroded reinforcement bars that have been found in some bridge piers around the world.

Prestressed concrete - GFRP deck bridge in custom test frame
Failure of full-scale composite timber-limecrete beam
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