Civil Engineering

The diversity of the research undertaken in the Department of Civil Engineering (BW) derives primarily from the consistent application of scientific principles. The added value of interdisciplinary research is apparent from successful applications for collaborative projects, which often involve the UDE’s and other universities’ natural sciences faculties, especially in the Ruhr region.

Research Highlights

Over the past few years, the Department has succeeded through regional and nationwide cooperation in attracting major collaborative projects that significantly sharpen its research profile. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the NRW “Future Water” research group, which entered its second funding period in 2018. The project’s integrated approach raises the profile of the UDE’s “Water” research focus and combines engineering, chemical, economic, ecological, medical and social science aspects. Civil Engineering is involved in two projects within the programme (Institute of Urban Water and Waste Management, Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management).

The Institute of Mechanics is also coordinating the second funding period of DFG Priority Programme (SPP) 1748 “Reliable Simulation Techniques in Solid Mechanics. Development of Non-standard Discretization Methods, Mechanical and Mathematical Analysis”, in which it also has two projects. It is represented in two other SPPs as well. In SPP 2013, “The utilization of residual stresses induced by metal forming”, the Institute is researching the numerical modelling of residual stresses in hot bulk forming. Meanwhile, in SPP 2020,“Cyclic deterioration of High-Performance Concrete in an experimental-virtual lab”, it is advancing computer-assisted modelling of damage as it occurs in fibre-reinforced high-performance concrete.

The Institute of Concrete Structures Engineering is developing innovative new ceiling systems inspired by examples from the natural world (bionics). It is also producing gears made of ultra-high performance concrete for testing in mechanical and automotive engineering applications. High-performance aerogel concrete has a very high load-bearing capacity and is simultaneously thermally insulating, which opens up some entirely new design possibilities in structural engineering. Another main focus is on the study, development and application of ultramodern information technology methods, for example for design, monitoring and reinforcement of adaptive structures in bridge building or the use of intelligent models in structural engineering.

The Institute of Metal and Lightweight Structures studies the torque and load-bearing behaviour of screws under static and dynamic loads on Germany’s largest torque test bench. The fatigue strength of shell structures and other steel structural elements is researched on the basis of fracture mechanics. The influence of assembly-induced imperfections in steel structural components is the subject of an IGF project, while the interdisciplinary European project “BIOGASS” is exploring corrosion processes and their effects on biogas systems.

The Institute of City Planning and Urban Design is working on the city and mobility in two transdisciplinary projects. A project to convert 200 km of service routes is seen as an opportunity to transform mobility in the region. In the BMVI project cluster “Automated and networked driving”, a transdisciplinary approach is being taken to research the effects of an autonomous and networked local public transport system on society, urban structure and urban space.

As part of a project funded by the BMWi, the Institute of Geotechnical Engineering has developed anchorings for systems which generate energy from ocean waves. Researchers are also using continuum mechanics to model soil erosion processes that occur in connection with groundwater flow. In another project, the Institute is conducting joint research with the University of Stavanger in Norway into the properties of multiphase porous media for oil exploration with three-dimensional seismic reflection data.

The Institute of Urban Water and Waste Management uses the molecular biology of bacteria from activated sludge to better understand and further optimise biochemical processes such as anaerobic ammonium oxidation (ANAMMOX) in wastewater treatment. Molecular analysis is useful if the treatment process fails or if modelling is required. Two projects (Future Water and ARUS) looked at the acceptance and participation structures that are an important part of planning for any construction project. They took the Emscher region and river systems in South-East Asia (Mekong) as examples.

The Emscher is also close to the hearts of the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management. It is exploring the morphodynamic and ecological effects of the renaturation of the Emscher river system in cooperation with the Department of Aquatic Ecology (Faculty of Biology) and Emschergenossenschaft. The project is expected to deliver findings on the distribution and development of habitat composition and riverbed stability. Urban and agricultural water pollution are explored in a materials flow analysis quantifying the effects on organisms and habitats.

Awards and Distinctions

Poster Prize 2018: Maksim Karabasov (Thermag VIII, International Conference on Caloric Cooling) for “Anisotropy of electrocaloric effect in barium titanate”.

The 2017 DAAD prize for international students at the UDE went to Nariman Afzali.

Lukas Makevičius received the DASt 2018 award for his talk on “Preload losses in fatigued pre-loaded screw connectors”.

Stiftung Mercator accepted Hauke Gravenkamp into the “Global Young Faculty V” in October 2017.

The 2018 Engineering Innovation Award of Sparkasse Niederrhein went to Lisa Scheunemann for her paper “Scale-bridging of Elasto-Plastic Microstructures using Statistically Similar Representative Volume Elements”.

The Venator Prize 2017 was awarded to Anh Van Le for her Master’s thesis “Model-based analysis of microbial consortia and soluble microbial products dynamics in anammox biofilm reactors”.

The Brita GmbH Award 2017 went to Tobias Hesse for his Master’s thesis “Evaluating the impact of pH on in-sewer biotransformation of antibiotics”, which he wrote in cooperation with the Advanced Water Management Center in Queensland (Australia).

A Young Scientist Award went to Elena Josefine Schäfer for her Master’s thesis, written at the Center for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) on the development of assessment criteria for an additional waste water treatment stage.

Cooperation and International News

The Department’s large number of project partners means that only a small selection of its collaborative work can be presented here.

The Institute of Construction Operations and Construction Industry (IBB) is extending its cooperation with TU Budapest and applying for a transnational research collaboration in the field of Building Information Management (EUREKA). The Institute of Metal and Lightweight Structures was the coordinator of the European SIROCO research project, in which a total of ten research partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden and Finland are represented. It is working as part of various European standards committees in steel and stainless steel structure manufacturing, shell structures, plate-form components, and screw connectors.

The Institute of Mechanics played a major role in organising three international events: the “European Congress on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences and Engineering (ECCOMAS) – Modern Finite Element Technologies 2017”; the 1st German-Brazilian Workshop on Computational Mechanics in São Paulo, Brazil; and in Bad Honnef the 3rd Seminar on the Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials. The São Paulo event is the result of intense cooperation with the research group of Prof. Paulo De Mattos Pimenta (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), which has continued since 2015 in many bilateral research visits connected with Prof. Pimenta receiving the Georg Forster Research Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Institute of Urban Water and Waste Management in collaboration with Prof. Ji Dong Gu from the University of Hong Kong, School of Biological Sciences, is exploring ANAMMOX bacteria, which play a significant role in nitrogen metabolism in wastewater treatment plants and marine sediment.

Future Prospects

The IBB is contributing to the Future Water Campus (EFRE.NRW) research proposal with a subproject on establishing and management of a Campus Information System. An application has also been made for development of a cable-driven parallel robot for building construction (ZIM Central Innovation Programme for SMEs) and of an intelligent management control system for the construction and real-estate industry (BMBF).

In one of two new DFG projects in the Institute of Materials Science, the researchers are to explore magneto-electrical effects in nanoparticles doped to specifically achieve greater coupling coefficients. The second project concerns the potential of ferroelectric layers as a solar cell material that uses the ferroelectric structure to optimise properties.

As part of a DFG project, the membrane test rig at the Institute of Metal and Lightweight Structures is being extended to include spatial curvature, also enabling static load tests on preloaded large membrane components and verification of structural calculations and stored material stiffness parameters.