Urban Water Infrastructure Facility

Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield

Urban Water Hub

The UKCRIC Urban Water Innovation & Test Facilities at Cranfield, Sheffield, and Newcastle will provide capabilities to advance our understanding of long term performance and serviceability of water infrastructure; test the effectiveness of active and passive technologies for managing flood water in urban areas; deliver cheaper and more environmentally benign approaches to water treatment; enable full-scale testing of new technologies for treatment, distribution and collection networks and flood management; and pilot smart water management systems. Investment in a suite of complementary water infrastructure research facilities across three of the UK’s leading water research groups will provide an internationally leading capacity to deliver;

  • improved long term structural, operational, and economic performance of water infrastructure
  • advanced active and passive technologies for managing flood water in urban areas,
  • cheaper and more environmentally sensitive approaches to water treatment, including reuse
  • innovative technologies for treatment, distribution and collection networks and flood management
  • smarter water management systems and their integration into smart cities.


Several investments will enhance the existing industrial-scale test facilities on the Cranfield campus in two locations; UKCRIC 1, located on the main campus site, provides a new build extension to the east of the existing Building B52, located adjacent to the University’s Water Science Institute. UKCRIC 1 will house;

  1. a sensor testing facility for exploring the engineering resilience of urban water systems
  2. a test area dedicated to the development and testing of point of use water treatment technologies
  3. an Infrastructure Breakthrough Innovation Hub with mixed use areas for design, rapid prototyping, and testing
  4. a data visualisation suite providing access to data feeds from infrastructure across campus – including from the two pilot halls
  5. walk-in access to utility infrastructure located under the road to the east of the building.

The second bundle of investments (UKCRIC 2) is located at the university’s sewage treatment works north of the campus. This will complement an existing wastewater pilot hall and comprise;

  1. a new build 220m2 clean water pilot hall housing parallel plug-and-play treatment trains and an advanced soil and sediment erosion testing environment
  2. test and control sewer loops for analysing the impact and control of Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOG) in sewer systems
  3. large scale storage and distribution systems for raw water supply to the existing and new pilot halls.


Urban Water Hub at Newcastle will be a dedicated experimental facility within a 12,370m² Urban Sciences Building on the 10Ha Science Central regeneration site in the heart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This building will house urban transport, urban energy and urban ICT infrastructure research facilities as well as the Newcastle Urban Observatory. The site will provide experimental facilities based on

  • the new building, to study green roof, blue roof and/or urban agriculture; green walls and living walls; surface water management infrastructure; and internal smart devices to manage water use more sustainably within the building
  • the street, to trial a wide range of near market and future green infrastructure products; surface water drainage infrastructure, pipes drain, water storage and water filtering; runoff controls for the movement of water in streets, infiltration pavements, flow attenuation features, green space and soakaways; and vegetation and materials to be tested for water and air quality and to address climate change adaptation options
  • the site, including long term, instrumented ‘undisturbed’ road and surface water management infrastructure; analysis of water quantity and quality fluxes; a visualisation tank illustrating flows and the influence of different measures of sustainable urban drainage


Distributed Water Infrastructure (Sheffield): 1200 m³ containment chamber in a new building, in which water distribution and drainage assets (water pipes, sewer pipes and chambers) and natural features e.g. soil layers and voids can be created and tested under controlled conditions. Capability includes

  • high pipe flows of up to 200 l/s
  • inducing pressure transient shock loads up to 6 bar representing pipe bursting and contaminant ingress
  • ability to examine pipe asset deterioration and pipe sensing systems
  • complex surcharge cyclic loads of up to 10kN/m²
  • freeze-thaw cycles to examine the interaction of repeated climatic loading and the potential for resultant asset failure.