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The Civil Engineering Research Facility (CERF) at Leeds Beckett University consists of two dedicated laboratory facilities, one on-campus, the other off-campus. The large-scale off-campus testing laboratory is dedicated to research and development work, encompassing both empirical and numerical testing/design programmes. Recent research projects include:

  • Development of a novel water purification system using plant extracts for developing countries
  • The use of novel vegetable fibre geotextiles to reinforce and reinstate contaminated soils
  • Improving the performance of unpaved roads in Africa
  • Performance of lime mortars in masonry
  • The use of thermally desorbed soils in concrete and mortars
  • Fire resistance of masonry structures
  • Sustainability and the sustainable use of building materials  

The group has been very successful in recent years, obtaining a number of research grants from highly regarded UK funding agencies, namely the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), together with industrial consultancy projects. Collectively the group has received awards in the order of £750k.

International work within Africa has also been a major development for the research group. Funding has been awarded from the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) to undertake research and development work in Malawi towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In addition to actually undertaking the research work, funding has been secured from the Department for International Development (DfID) under the Development Partnerships in Higher Education programme (DelPHE) - Round 4. This funding has been awarded to develop a range of new postgraduate courses in Africa in conjunction with the Universities of Malawi and Botswana. The focus of these courses is on sustainable engineering.

Peer review grades of 'tending to internationally leading' for 'research planning and practice' and tending to outstanding for both 'quality of training and experience' and 'potential benefits to society' have recently been obtained from EPSRC. Feedback from DelPHE noted that this proposal 'was excellent and well thought out' and is 'carefully developed over three years to allow sustainable strategy to become embedded which should ensure post project legacy'.

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