Case Study - Slope Stabilisation Services from Spin-out Company

Sector: Engineering

A Newcastle University spin-out company, Electrokinetic Ltd, is using new technologies to solve an old problem: how to stabilise slopes and embankments that are in danger of collapse and of causing disruption to railways or road transport links. Their approach has demonstrated a range of technical, economic, environmental and operational benefits.

The technologies were significantly developed in the laboratories at Newcastle University by Professor Colin Jones and colleagues including Dr John Lamont-Black and Dr Stephanie Glendinning. These three continue to be closely involved in the spin-out company, with John in the role of Chief Executive.

Technologies

The technologies harness ‘electro-osmosis’, the water flow that occurs in response to an imposed voltage gradient. Projects with Network Rail and the Highways Agency illustrate how well it works. Electrodes are installed in a slope with a history of slope movement. A generator is used to maintain a voltage gradient for a period typically of six weeks. At the end of the period significant volumes of water will have been forced out of the slope and there will be continued cessation of slope movement and a significant increase in soil strength.

This method of slope stabilisation, known as EKG (electrokinetic geosynthetics), is remarkably cost-effective compared to traditional approaches. There is no need for heavy equipment, closure of the highway or railway or transport of heavy reinforcements for the embankment. In addition to the cost benefit, the carbon footprint of the process is estimated to be roughly half that of traditional approaches.

Partnership

Professor David Parker, Head of School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, comments that Newcastle University and Electrokinetic Ltd “are continuing to work hand in hand to further the development of this technology and bring employment potential to the North East.”

Further information

  • David Huntley
    Research & Enterprise Services
    University of Newcastle
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 7RU

or contact a Business Development Manager to discuss how to access University expertise.