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Breakthrough in Geomechanics Research

A research breakthrough by a University of Nottingham professor that will have important implications for engineering design involving rolling and sliding contact such as road railway foundations has been unveiled in a prestigious journal.

The outcome of new the new research by Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Director and founder of the University’s Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics and Deputy Head of the School of Civil Engineering, has been reported in the Royal Society’s flagship journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Series A.

His scientific paper, Three-Dimensional Analytical Solutions for Shakedown of Cohesive-Frictional Materials Under Moving Surface Loads, outlines how the research solved an outstanding fundamental problem in the field of engineering mechanics under variable loads. Shakedown is a concept used in engineering mechanics to describe the situation when the permanent deformation of a structure under variable loads ceases to occur after a number of load cycles.

The research has particular applications to design of pavements and rail tracks in highway and railway engineering, as these structures are constantly subjected to variable, moving traffic loads. Design for these structures needs to ensure that they will shakedown under given traffic loading conditions.

The shakedown solution derived by Professor Yu provides a fundamental basis for developing an innovative and cost-effective methodology for designing and evaluating pavement and railway foundations.

This new design methodology, which is currently under development at the Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics with financial support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will represent a significant advance on current design procedures that are largely empirical and lack a rigorous theoretical basis.

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