New materials and new technologies
This program may be qualified as one of the more "sensitive", by virtue of the word "new" appearing twice in the title! It goes without saying that LCPC is looking for something new from this program, both for itself and for its partners, in the aim of more effectively managing infrastructure projects. This program encompasses research on new materials, especially new types of high performance fiber-reinforced concretes for civil engineering structures and new concretes for road-building. Another program goal is to further knowledge on the behavior of more conventional materials. This would apply to granular and porous materials or to so-called "complex" composite materials; as specifically regards composites, it becomes necessary to track changes in their properties over time. A second feature has also been added: a study launched on introducing new technologies, spearheaded by satellite positioning or the use of networked computing resources on road construction works.
Five research projects have been devoted to the materials side; these concern the formulation and development of new types of concretes for structures (project entitled "Ultra high performance fibre-reinforced concretes") or new uses of concretes in road-building ("Hydraulic materials for road applications"). Moreover, these projects served to improve the level of understanding, through conducting more fundamental research, of the behaviour of civil engineering materials, be they granular, porous or heterogeneous (i.e. constituted of assemblies of several components whose evolution in properties, at the scale of the structural life cycle, proves sizable). Such is the case with the three projects "Heterogeneous material properties", "Porous media" and "Rheology of pastes and granular materials".
Five projects focus on new technologies in order to encourage the introduction and/or use of satellite network positioning ("GPS applications") and network computing on civil engineering worksites ("Modernisation of road works execution"). It is also being sought to promote identification methodologies, inverse problems and structural control in civil engineering ("Identification, control and inverse problems"). Included within this scope of research is the drive to improve performance of the CESAR-LCPC software code, as regards both the man-machine interface (CLEO project) and the LCPC computation solver (CESAR).
This programme also hosts the LPC network’s contribution to a European project specifically aimed at a strategic reflection on the design and maintenance of roads in the future ("Tomorrow’s roads").
In terms of research output, the importance of rheological results stemming from application of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) device, in an original and innovative manner by inserting a rheometer into the measurement cylinder, merits recognition. Discrete numerical modelling enables understanding the microscopic origin of granular material properties; moreover, fundamental results were obtained on a number of phenomena, i.e. drying or drainage of granular materials.
With respect to composite materials, computation methods for structures built with such types of materials are now available. Key results on self-compacting concretes used in road construction, along with significant progress on ultra high-performance fibre-reinforced concretes, highlight the kind of outstanding products derived from this programme.
In the realm of road-building sites, attention should be drawn to the development of methods based on tracking the materials employed during the pavement construction process. Satellite localisation methods would also lie within this research scope.
Lastly, the CESAR-LCPC software package underwent a major evolution in favour of enhanced interface functions at the level of both the automatic meshing systems (inputs) and the way computation results are represented (outputs). The CASTOR project has led to generating a computation module, to be run on the CESAR application, of structures reinforced by means of rigid inclusions (nailing, groups of piles, etc.). The technique (by homogenisation) is much quicker and just as effective as the set of methods used until now.
In quantitative terms, programme output has given rise to the following: