National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility

National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility

The internationally leading National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility (NDWIF) at the University of Sheffield provides a unique laboratory for research into the performance of distributed urban water infrastructure.

It is for all types of distributed water infrastructure (potable water, sewer and drainage), enabling the study of failure of water assets under a range of multiple, complex loadings and the interaction between an asset and its surrounding environment. 

Researchers can develop and 'field' test new sensing, inspection, repair and rehabilitation systems for surface and underground urban water systems infrastructure at much lower costs and in a more realistic environment than any other facility in the world. The facility houses enhanced advanced measurement equipment enabling investigation of the interactions between surface water, in-pipe (potable and sewage) flows and groundwater and be able to simulate physical, chemical and biological interactions between buried pipe and associated urban water systems infrastructure and the surrounding soil and water. 

The research undertaken in the facility will help inform the development of more resilient urban water systems, enhance repair and rehabilitation techniques and improving performance of deterioration and modelling tools for the water sector. The laboratory is part of the Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (iCAIR) at the University of Sheffield which will transform the intelligence, resilience and resource-efficiency of physical infrastructure, benefitting both people and planet. 

Who can use the facility Functions/facilities available

International and UK research partners

NDWI facilities

Enhanced measurement equipment also capable for use on the University’s existing internationally leading Pennine Water Group (PWG) pilot scale laboratory facilities including the 1/6 scale above and below ground flooding facility and the Mapplin Street Engineering Building’s temperature controlled potable pipe loop and annular flume facilities

Industry (various TRL levels) NDWI facilities
Industrial Fellowships and Secondments (such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships NDWI facilities and study space
PhD studentships NWI facilities and study space

Facility Highlights

  • £7.8m investment
  • 600m2 of specialist laboratory space
  • 1350m3 waterproof test cell 45m long by 5m deep by 5m deep with in-situ instrumentation
  • Straight test length of 38m
  • In-pipe and surface flows of up to 200 l/s
  • Pressure transient shocks of up to 10bar
  • Actuators able to impose complex cyclic loads of up to 10kN/m2


Find out more 

Visit site

Contact Professor Steve Thornton

Watch the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility presentation or download the slides as a PDF.