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Advanced Materials Testing Centre (AMTeC)


AMTeC is a modular multi-disciplinary engineering research centre nucleating from on-going research and consultancy work in Civil Engineering and addressing innovation challenges facing the infrastructure sector. 

AMTeC has widened and enhanced its scope to include cutting-edge research into sustainable cementitious materials, geo-polymers and composite materials, such as fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs). It also looks at modern materials testing and analysis methods, including X-Ray diffraction, derivative thermogravimetry and calorimetry, laser particle analysis and electron microscopy among others.

Major research areas

  • Structural engineering
  • Advanced materials engineering in both civil and aeronautic engineering areas
  • Soil and geotechnical engineering  – slopes, foundations, soil characterisation and stabilisation
  • Waste utilisation and management
  • Global challenges for international development


Expertise 

AMTeC staff have participated in research assessments since RAE2001. Contribution to REF2021 is based on a small team of one Prof (CEng FICE), one Ass. Prof (CEng MICE), one Ass. Prof, one Senior Lecturer, and support from co-workers. 

The centre has a current cohort of 11 PhD students with seven completions in the last six years, averaging 1.2 completions/year. Over this period, there have been 58 publications - 26 journal and 20 conference, three edited books and seven book chapters, averaging 2.5 publications/staff/year.  Search our research repository for details.

Collaborative industrial research profile includes £650k UK and Welsh Government funding (Royal Society, WEFO; A4B, KESS, CIRP, KEF, ScoRE CYMRU etc.) for the development of eco-materials such as unfired bricks, timber simulated from waste plastics; Fibre-reinforced Polymers (FRPs), and patented novel cements utilising a wide range of industrial waste streams (e.g. Registered Patent No. PCT/GB2002/000708 on wastepaper-slag cement). 

Impact on industry

In commercial work, AMTeC is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service(UKAS) for testing materials (UKAS Lab 1014), and by the European Commission (EC) as a Notified Body (EC NB 1679). The NB status for Construction Products is necessary for certification of material components. It enables manufacturers from diverse sectors of industry to validate products by achieving the prestigious CE kite-mark of product quality.  We also provide industrial consultancy in structural testing –  lintels, concrete, masonry - and Non Destructive Testing (NDT). Thus, AMTeC contributes real and significant impact in industry.  

AMTeC has expanded scope to include areas of commonality with materials subject areas relevant to aero-mechanical engineering, such as Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and Composite Materials Systems (CMS). 

This will enable participation in research funding in the more dynamic combined Civil-Aero-Mechanical engineering nexus. 

Although the team has made bids in the H2020 scheme, widened scope will enable enhanced capacity for H2020 and the Global Challenges Funding (GCRF) among other major streams, and AMTeC aspires to quadruple current levels of output of an annual income from research and consultancy to about £200,000 in the next five years.

Research projects

The main focus of the research projects at AMTeC is on sustainable building and construction materials. Here, we consider a wide range of soil- and cement-based cementitious systems, aiming at the development of sustainable infrastructure. 

The research projects aim to utilise natural, industrial and agricultural waste and by-product materials, and incorporate emergent concepts and technologies such 3D printing, smart concrete, thermal imaging of construction elements, as well as nano- and geo-polymer materials among other new areas. For Low or Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) especially, where affordability is a major obstacle, utilisation of waste from agriculture has potential. Potential waste streams include from the growing of cereals – wheat and rice, sugarcane and palm oil among others. Utilisation of industrial and agricultural waste streams has immense international appeal and interest. 

The broad research areas include:

This area of research specialises in sustainable materials, components, and structural systems, with emphasis on technical advances in innovations in construction. Main research threads include:

  • Concrete science and technology - alternative cements, for example those incorporating Pulverized Fuel Ash (PFA) or Fly Ash, Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag (GGBS), Silica Fume (SF), Metakaolin (MK), Waster-paper Sludge Ash (WSA) and Alkali Activated Cements (AAC) including geopolymer-based cements. The recycling of aggregates to replace natural aggregates in concrete is also a major research thread, aiming to capitalise on waste from Construction and Demolition (C&D), as well as concrete debris from war-torn areas such as the Middle East.

  • Sustainable structural systems - Environmental impacts for example whole life-cycle analyses (LCA), for evaluation impact of sustainable materials incorporating wood, novel cements, and steel.

  • Computational optimization for building energy efficiency through avenues of extraction, processing (‘embodied energy’), transport (‘grey energy’) of materials, design and construction (‘induced energy’).

Current research includes:

Research on geopolymer-based concrete.

Wassam-Almadi (PhD) - The development of high strength pervious concrete – a project that has synergy with large quantities of C&D waste. Partners include universities in Iraq. 

Qusai Al-Waked (PhD) –  Development of a new approaches to enhancing the performance of concrete with  Construction and Demolition (C&D) recycled aggregates. Partners include universities in Jordan, using the large quantities of Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste in the Middle East, resulting from many years of war. 

This is a new area of research for AMTeC, seed funded by the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science (FCES), via the CES Research Investment Scheme (CES RIS). 

The initial successful bid of £10k has produced exciting results that suggest wider and more attractive applications of geopolymer gels that are possible using agricultural and industrial wastes and by-products. 

A sequel bid of £10k aims at pursuing multi-disciplinary research where the gels will be tried out not only in civil engineering applications but also as lubricants in mechanical engineering applications such as high temperature lubricants for parts of jet engines among other mechanical and structural parts. 

A further recent development of geopolymer concrete is a £60k collaborative Industrial research project funded by USW (for HEFCW) and industry, for the incorporation of waste plastics in order to achieve far lower carbon footprint construction products.  

Current research includes: 

Dr Billong Ndigui– Visiting Researcher and Deputy Director of a state-run local materials promotion authority (Mission de Promotion des Matériaux Locaux (MIPROMALO)) in Yaoundé, Cameroon – has assisted in the development of activators from industrial wastes, obviating the need for commercial activators in the development of Geopolymer binders for civil infrastructural applications. The geopolymer gel material has also applications in the development of Sustainable Inorganic Lubricants for High Temperature Tribology applications

Samara Altameemi (Research Assistant) – Development of geopolymer concrete for civil engineering applications – includes incorporation of waste plastics in geopolymer concrete.

Andrew Ayres (KESS PhD Student)  – Effects of dynamic loading on performance of reinforced concrete elements strengthened using geopolymer binders and fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs) 

Research work at AMTeC has had regional, national and global impact. Local impact has been demonstrated by involvement in local projects of high sustainability credentials, such as the Church Village bypass, and by the funding from the Welsh Government. National research esteem is evidenced by the prestigious Royal Society  award for innovation. At the global level, recognition by the UN UNESCO Committee provided global esteem, by supporting the scoping of eco-materials in Africa, with case studies in Kenya and Cameroon. 

Engagement on global challenges by AMTeC researchers is evidenced by the following:

Cameroon: UNESCO-funded research work enabled policy changes on the use of unfired bricks. Researchers at AMTeC assisted in the development of Cameroonian standards on bricks (MIPROSPECS) by working with a local materials promotion authority 

Mission de Promotion des Materiaux Locaux (MIPLOMALO). A pilot project to inform the standards comprised of a housing estate for the Baka forest tribe (sometimes referred to as Pygmies) at Bertou, Cameroon. The tribe faces challenges of deforestation where forests have traditionally provided shelter.

Kenya: AMTeC staff have been involved in a project dealing with interlocking bricks. These brick forms do not require jointing mortar, hence making significant savings. AMTeC assisted in the supervision of one researcher who completed their PhD in 2019. More recently, a project on materials and energy has been facilitated by successful research funding bid of £25k by the prestigious Academy of Medical Sciences will enhance global impact of USW research. The funding is via the equally prestigious Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) programme. The initial aim is “Promotion of energy efficient homes using sustainable design of building, materials and energy management”. Partners include University of Embu (UoEm) and Kenyatta University (KU) in  Kenya

Zambia: Impact involved curriculum development during a tenure as extremal examiner/advisor during 2010-12. 

Rwanda: AMTeC has played the role of advisor in informing research work on low-cost housing by multi-national NGOs - MASS Group, Greenpact Africa and Earth Enable.

Global Research Evaluation: The holistic impact from research has led to invitations in panels and grant evaluations activities at the global level. With institutions such as the Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarships; The British Council Newton Funding evaluations;  The National Centre of Science and Technology Evaluation (NCSTE), Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan; The Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (RPF); Cara Syria Programme;  Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), Government of New Zealand; The Research Council, Sultanate of Oman; The Research Council of Norway; Research councils for the governments, South Africa, Slovakia; The Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) of Germany among others.

Current research includes: 

Qusai Al-Waked (PhD) –  Development of a new approach to enhance the performance of concrete with  construction and demolition (C&D) recycled aggregates – Partners include universities in Jordan, using the large quantities of Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste in the Middle East, resulting from many years of war. 

Emma Marigi (PhD)  –  Effects of deposits on flow efficiency of oil and gas pipelines for integrity management – Case Studies include trial supported by Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) in Kenya. 

Fatuma Muktar (PhD)  – Understanding people’s attitudes, behaviour and habits of waste disposal practices in Abuja, Nigeria 

Hosannah  Mwaugnulu (PhD)  – Building more resilient buildings in flood prone areas: Case study of Blantyre, Malawi. 

This research has a strong global appeal due to its sustainability and low-cost credentials. It also has an industrial base and support in the UK, due to significant foundation and earthwork activities in ultra large  industrial projects such as the expansion of Heathrow Airport, Transport for London, and High-Speed Rail (HS2) among others. 

Pioneering work on a wide range of cementitious formulations has been undertaken, mostly utilising  natural, industrial or agricultural waste and by-product materials on troublesome sulphate-bearing clay soils. 

This research work has been successfully trialled in the building and construction sectors mainly aiming at the suppression of sulphate-induced swelling in lime-stabilised soils by using industrial an agricultural wastes, including Ground Granulated Blast furnace-Slag (GGBS); Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) (burnt coal fly ash), Metakaolin, Rice Husk Ash (RHA), Wastepaper Sludge Ash (WSA) among other waste streams. The work has had significant industrial impact, culminating in the award of the prestigious Royal Society’s Brian Mercer Award for Innovation.

Current research includes:

Mansour Ebailila (PhD) - Development of an extra-high-performance soil-based material for roads and foundations (includes use of the industrial by-product silica fumes (SF)).

Blessing Oluwaseun Adeleke (PhD) - Utilization of waste (including magnesium oxide waste) and industrial by-products to suppress swelling in soils. 

Zachary McManus (PhD) - Suppression of sulphate-induced swelling in lime-stabilised soils by using waste glass powder. 

Research Impact 

Research into Unfired Clay Soil Materials 



This research has a strong industrial base and support, especially due to AMTeC’s commercial activities on testing of concrete and lintels. AMTeC material laboratories are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as Test Lab 1014, and also as European Notified Body (NB 1679). These are important achievements for industrial recognition as a materials centre. The work is also enthused by the significant structural and concrete works in ultra large  industrial projects in the UK, such as expansion of Heathrow Airport, Transport for London, and High-Speed Rail (HS2) among others. 


Current research includes: 


Andrew Ayres (PhD) – (KESS Project) – Effects of dynamic loading on performance of reinforced concrete elements strengthened using geopolymer cementitious binders and fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs) 


Imad Al-Khafaji (PhD) – Effects of Unfitted Stiffeners on behaviour and resistance for the Stiffened steel sections under static and seismic actions 







  • Universal Testing machine – fitted with a transducer system for testing large structural units such as steel or concrete lintels
  • Various Compression Testing Machine – for compressive testing of a wide range of materials
  • Laser Master-Sizer 2000 – for determination of particle size of fine particles – powders, cements, dust etc.
  • A TA Instruments High Resolution (Hi-Res TGA 2950) Thermogravimetric and Derivative Thermogravimetric Analyser – for determination of composition and optimisation of cementitious materials
  • Zwick Instruments Calorimeter
  • Environmental Chamber (-15 to + 60oC) – for various curing environments
  • VJ-Tech 64-Channel digital and transducer system - for collating and analysing soils test results
  • OLYMPUS Omni Scanner for Ultrasonic Testing
  • GE Eddy Current Kit
  • GE EC Weld Probe Expert Kit
  • National Instrument Acoustic Emission Test Kit
  • Liquid Penetrant – Test Line
  • FLIR High Resolution Thermography Camera
  • NDT – ongoing
  • Concrete Technology – under development
  • Soils and Geotechnology – under development

Please contact us for more information

Study with us

We welcome UK and international applications from suitably qualified graduates interested in joining us for PhD / postgraduate research. Find out more on the Graduate School website or contact Professor John Kinuthia for an informal discussion. 


Contact us 

If you are interested in any of our research, please contact Professor John Kinuthia


Latest News

Members

Professor John Kinuthia, AMTeC Manager
Lead Consultant in the testing of soils and concrete. His research is into the development of sustainable building and construction materials by utilising natural, industrial and agricultural waste and by-product materials. Special expertise in soil and cement-based cementitious systems, incorporating emergent concepts technologies such 3D printing, smart concrete, as well as nano- and geo-polymer materials. Engagement with industry and enthusing teaching enhances satisfaction in these research interests. Professor Kinuthia was awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation on unfired scaly systems. The deployment of these novel materials into Africa, to provide new homes at lower cost, was supported by UNESCO. See research outputs

Dr Paul Davies
Head of the School of Engineering at USW and also a Lead Consultant at AMTeC on testing of structural elements. His research area includes general structural systems and incorporates a specialism in the use of advanced polymer composites to both strengthen and extend the life of structural elements. See research outputs

Mansour Ebailila 
Development of an extra-high-performance soil-based material for roads and foundations 

Wassam Almadi
Development of high strength pervious concrete  

Qusai Al-Waked
Development of a new approach to enhance the performance of concrete with  construction and demolition (C&D) recycled aggregates  

Blessing Oluwaseun Adeleke 
Utilization of waste and industrial by-products to suppress swelling in soils 

Andrew Ayres
Effects of dynamic loading on performance of reinforced concrete elements strengthened using fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs) 

Zachary Mcmanus 
Suppression of sulphate-induced swelling in lime-stabilised soils using waste glass powder  

Emma Marigi 
Effects of deposits on flow efficiency of oil and gas pipelines for integrity management  

Owain James
Arbitration in Wales: the interplay between the courts and arbitration 

Fatuma Muktar 
Understanding people’s attitudes, behaviors and habits of waste disposal practices in Abuja, Nigeria 

Hosannah  Mwaugnulu
Building more resilient buildings in flood prone areas: Case study of Blantyre, Malawi. 

Darlene James 
Joint-Supervision, Registered at University of Coventry, UK. 

Bintou Jobe
A critical evaluation of the management of health and safety in the Gambian construction industry.


For more information on PhDs, visit our Graduate School website or contact Llinos Spargo.


Members

Dr Jiping Bai
Associate Professor and a Lead Consultant at AMTeC on testing of lintels to Construction Products Regulation 305/2011/EU-CPR. He specialises in sustainable materials, components, and structural systems, with emphasis on technical advances in sustainable materials and structural systems. His work has been broadly based within the field of concrete science, technology, structural systems and computational optimization, involving research, consultancy, learning and teaching. See research outputs

Dr Jonathan Oti
Associate Professor and Lead Consultant at AMTeC on testing of soils and concrete. He researchers into the development of sustainable construction materials, technologies, and practices, with  research interests revolving around the use of natural, industrial and agricultural waste and by-product materials for partial or whole replacement of the traditional binders to produce a new generation of concrete, mortar and bricks, suppression of sulphate-induced swelling in lime-stabilised soils, development of geo-polymer binders for civil infrastructural applications. See research outputs

Visiting Professors

Professor Uphie Chinje Melo
Prof Melo has been a Visiting Professor since 2009. For a long period, she was the Director of Local Materials Promotion Authority - Mission de Promotion des Materiaux Locaux (MIPROMALO) Yaoundé and is now a Rector of a Gaudere University, one of the largest universities in Cameroon. Prof Melo provides vital anchorage between USW and Cameroon, visiting USW to deliver lectures to Civil Engineering mastersstudents, sending staff as co-workers in research and supporting initiatives to increase the numbers of Cameroonian students at USW.

Dr Billong Ndigui
Dr Billong Ndigui is a protégé of Prof Melo and is the current Deputy Director at the Local Materials Promotion Authority - Mission de Promotion des Materiaux Locaux (MIPROMALO) Yaoundé, Cameroon. He has visited USW as a researcher on numerous occasions since 2014 to co-supervise four Master of Engineering students, and jointly publish a  journal article on geopolymer materials with metakaolin and rice husk ash. In 2019, he helped to set up a geopolymer research project, which is ongoing.