R&D case studies

26 July 2018

Case study: Constructing a weatherproof cladding system

 

The Challenge

The project aimed to construct a weatherproof cladding system (a Weather Envelope), designed to last 100 years that would allow the site to become the first ever nuclear reactor in the world to achieve the ‘safestore’ requirements with the boilers in situ.

Resolution

A methodology was required to be designed that reduced the vibration the adjacent buildings would be exposed to ensure their structural integrity.

The water capture and filtration system was also required to be of sufficient strength and durability as it would be placed in a demolition site.

A standard filtration system would not be adequate for these works due to the irradiated nature of the generated waste. A system that combined traditional water and filtration systems, with nuclear monitoring and filtration system was required.

The team developed a unique water capturing system. This captured and filtered contaminated dust allowing as much of the moisture as possible to be disposed as clean water.

The deconstruction of the building was managed in a controlled manner, with detailed engineering design work undertaken to ensure the building would not collapse. The methodology was reviewed and appreciably improved with 30 iterations required before works were able to be undertaken.

Impact

This weather envelope is the first of its kind and there was significant uncertainty as to the best way forward. The new methodologies and designs from this project have been shared across the nuclear and demolition industries.

Benefit to the client

The project costs qualified for the R&D enhanced tax relief.


Case study: Demolition with occupation - Smith & Williamson supports

 

The Challenge

The demolition of internal structures while one floor within the building was still occupied. This had never been attempted before in the industry.

Resolution

A range of activities were required to be undertaken to underpin the processes and technology required to complete the works:

Noise and vibration
There is no legislation with regards to the level of noise and vibration allowable in the vicinity of demolishing a structure, or part thereof a structure with people still living within it.

All legislation currently only rather applies to people and structures found outside the demolition zone.With no legislation to establish appropriate levels the company and their acoustic specialist were required to test differing plant & equipment to understand the impact each had and specifically, testing in and around the building.

Due to the nature of the situation no previous research on ground borne vibration had been undertaken. As such the company undertook a number of trials that underpinned the level of airborne and ground borne vibration created by differing demolition techniques.

Impact
Following the research, an ‘acoustic box’ was designed and built that minimised the exposure of the lived in areas to the demolition activities.

The acoustic box, designed following the research trials dampened vibration and noise to the agreed acceptable levels.

The understanding of sound and vibration created during demolition works is better understood by the industry following this project, façade retention systems designed and built with no anchoring to the ground are better understood with more advance solutions available following completion of the project.

Benefit to the client

The project costs qualified for the enhanced relief.
 

Case study: Integrating modern techniques on old drainage systems

 

The Challenge

This project was about improving the drainage and sewerage system in a large European city. The drainage system was very old, since the increase in the population very light rainfall in one area of the city could make the system back up and spill out in other areas of the city.

Resolution

A system had to be designed to interact with much of the existing old drainage system but ensure modern techniques were integrated into the whole system to avoid flooding and the resulting impact on the city.

Impact

The integration of stop gaps to avoid back flooding across the whole of the City, combined with some extreme rainfall trials resulted in a new working system. This overcame technical difficulties in the integration and development of technologies within an existing antiquated drainage system.

Benefit to the client

The integration of the new system enabled the company to gain valuable information on how a drainage system works with old and new elements working together rather than against each other.
Certain project costs qualified for the R&D enhanced tax credit relief and were approximately 30% of the overall salary costs on the project.
 

Case study: Demolition with a difference - keeping the facade

 

The Challenge

The demolition of a structure while retaining the façade on all 4 sides.

Resolution

The façade was the largest retained façade at the time. The design was required to safeguard the existing structure, ensure the load baring was equally distributed throughout the propping system and take into account the impact of weather, public transport and general public disruption  in  its  construction  and  operation.
The team researched load testing  to  ensure  the strength of the design. This improved the standard methodology, using concrete kentledge foundations instead of piling. Complex temporary works were designed to overcome the technical uncertainties, some of which had never been attempted before. Space constraints led the company to devise a solution that would allow the base of a local substation to be used as a cantilever.

This had never previously been undertaken.The nature of heritage buildings is one where the materials and techniques they were originally built with are now unknown. E.g. where a wall was repaire the company would undertakresearch to underpin the type of brick and type of mortar utilised.
 

Impact

The Company produced a final product ensuring the correct material was used that was eligible for R&D tax relief.

Benefit to the client

This methodology reduced impact on the area, reduced the material required to be brought on site and, developed a new methodology that has allowed demolition and deconstruction to take place within confined and heavily populated areas with minimal effect upon the local community.
 

Case study: From science and technological uncertainties to first in class

 

The Challenge

Reviewing a construction business to determine if the costs qualify for the Research & Development (“R&D”) enhanced tax credit.

Resolution

The identified activities were undertaken as there were no viable solutions available within the market and no clear knowledge or understanding available to overcome the issues at hand. The work undertaken was first in class and resolved scientific and technological uncertainties. Some projects used science and technology to duplicate the effect of an existing process or product in an appreciably improved.

Impact

Technical uncertainties in the work that were not readily deducible to a competent professional were:
  • Uncertain and differing ground conditions
  • Uncertainty of how the ground conditions will interact with standard & new technology
  • Undertaking works under conditions where the work has never previously been undertake
  • Ensuring the safety and security of all involved while also preserving historically important areas
  • Developing solutions that take into account certain areas of scientific and environmental importance
  • Access and space constraint interaction and uncertainty of how other buildings will respond to the work that is being undertaken
  • The type and location of services rendering traditional techniques unfeasible
  • Requirement to reduce noise and vibration leading to traditional techniques not being feasible.

Benefit to the client

The project costs qualified for the enhanced relief and were approximately 16% of the overall salary costs on the project.  

Case study: Creating viable long term sustainable solutions

 

The Challenge

To remediate a 26 acre site which has a history of significant pollution issues, allowing for future commercial and residential development. The quantity, composition and volume of the pollution was unknown.

Resolution

A range of site investigations were undertaken for chemical analysis of the ground in specialist laboratories, following which the company could develop a process to overcome these uncertainties. These investigations helped the company establish the ‘flow’ caused by ground water as the site location was adjacent to a river. It was uncertain what impact this had on ground conditions and the ‘leaching’ affect it had upon the contamination. Utilising a number of modelling techniques a ground water flow model was created that allowed the company to consider what available systems and technologies (e.g. Slurry wall & sheet pilling) could be improved and combined to overcome technical uncertainties. Once the type of contamination, the volume of contamination and the effect of groundwater was known, a process was researched and implemented. A combination of complex sorting, bio-remediation and stabilisation techniques were developed to overcome solvent, hydrocarbon and PAH contamination. The removal of creosote was not readily deducible and required a new approach to be developed. A steam injection system was developed using ground pipes to extract the creosote from the underlying ground water.

Impact

Although this newly developed methodology was an improvement on traditional methods, the company was unable to produce the required heat on a sustained basis as was originally designed. Asbestos is now one of the greatest risks to the health of the industries’ work force. As it is difficult to identify, the company was required to undertake a range of site investigations and lab testing to establish the type, volume and location of the asbestos. Once identified a new remediation strategy was developed, to create the most viable long term sustainable solution.

Benefit to the client

The methodologies developed were unknown in the field and qualified for R&D enhanced tax credit relief.

 

 

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