Proposed design of building envelope testbed at University of Galway
Construct Innovate, the Enterprise Ireland technology centre hosted by University of Galway, has secured €2million funding under a Government programme to invest in specialised equipment and testing facilities.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney T.D. made the announcement under the 2023 Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Programmes.
Construct Innovate secured grants to fund three projects at University of Galway and one project at University College Dublin.
The 2023 Capital Equipment Fund will allow Construct Innovate to develop a building envelope testbed, expand and upgrade their structural testing facilities and enable the development of modern methods of construction (MMC) through automated and process technologies.
Construct Innovate directors, Prof Jamie Goggins and Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz, welcomed the announcement of the Capital Equipment Fund results.
Dr Hajdukiewicz said: “Construct Innovate facilitates industry-led, independent and evidence-based research supporting innovation and sustainability in the construction sector. This recent funding will provide our partner institutions with state-of the-art equipment that supports the development and testing of new materials and systems, including modern methods of construction and utilisation of digital technologies.”
The funding supports the development of a Building Envelope Testbed at University of Galway. The 3-cell facility will have the capacity to conduct various types of tests measuring the performance of building envelope assemblies, including thermal characteristics, moisture transfer, solar and luminous characteristics of glazing, air permeability, water tightness, acoustic performance, energy performance (including renewable energy systems), and indoor environmental quality incl. thermal comfort. The testbed’s design and specifications were developed to ensure it meets the specific needs of Irish companies developing complex, innovative envelope systems, for which they expect short and efficient testing in full-scale real conditions.
Secondly, a suite of equipment is being funded to extend the capabilities within the Large Structures Testing Laboratory at University of Galway to be suitable for testing construction elements at or near full-scale, such as novel floor makeups, timber elements, concrete structures, and connections for off-site structures. Over the coming years, the facility will be used for construction-based projects involving the mechanical performance testing of building elements and prefabricated building system components used in MMC.
The funding will also go towards an Autonomous Mobile Robot in the Advanced Manufacturing Lab at University of Galway, for furthering the automation of next-generation technology for on-site construction and inspection technology. This will also be deployed for off-site construction and assembly process development, specifically focusing on production scale-up capability. This technology represents the coming together of the forefronts of the construction sector (rapid build, modular construction, MMC) and of Industry 4.0 (mobile automation).
University College Dublin were awarded funding for equipment to create an Automated Structures Innovation Hub. This will expand their automation and prototyping capabilities and also double the current capacity to perform structural/material tests. The new hub will promote engagement with companies in R&D, enable pilot manufacturing capability and prototyping for new product / process development and also enhance concrete printing technology.
Similar building envelope testbed at CARTIF, Spain
Image Credit: CARTIF, Spain