Following axe of Chinese contractor, Swansea Bay marine works is open for retender
In the wake of parting ways with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) is reopening the £300 million marine works project. It is understood that the two companies have parted as a result of CHEC’s lack of value for money, with TLP stating that CHEC’s designs incorporated “limited workability” in the construction of six miles of lagoon wall.
The project will be a pilot to ascertain whether the project will operate for larger scale tidal energy lagoons, although larger sites would incorporate 1,800MW and 2,800MW in comparison to the works in Swansea Bay which would contain 320 MW capacity.
A spokesperson for Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc (TLSB) told The Construction Index: “We have now taken the decision to retender the Marine Works Package in line with the requirement to deliver optimal value-for-money to investors and to consumers. The Marine Works Package comprises the construction of the lagoon’s breakwaters and the temporary cofferdam in which the powerhouse structure will be built”.
It has been revealed that Construction Director Andrew McNaughton has also departed from his role in the project and will be succeeded by current Project Delivery Director Mike Unsworth. However, due to his extensive experience, McNaughton will maintain an advisory role throughout the duration of the ongoing financial Government review of the project.
Laing O’Rourke is responsible for the construction of the lagoon’s turbine house and sluice structure block in a £200 million deal, alongside Alun Griffiths, the current contractor that will provide civil engineering works at a cost of £10 million.
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University of Dresden constructs carbon concrete building
The Technical University of Dresden, in partnership with German architecture firm Henn, is constructing the first building to be made out of concrete and carbon fibre, rather than traditional steel.
The combination of materials, known as, “carbon concrete” has the same structural strength as its steel-reinforced alternative but less concrete is used, according to researchers at the university.
The building, called “The Cube” is currently under construction at the University of Dresden’s campus in Germany, and is believed to be the first carbon concrete building in the world. Strengthening the concrete, the carbon fibre yarns are used to create a mesh into which the concrete is then poured.
Unlike steel, the mesh is rust-proof meaning that the lifespan of carbon concrete is longer than that of the more typical steel-reinforced concrete. This also allows the layers to be much thinner than steel.
The design and shape of The Cube
According to the companies, the flexibility of carbon fibre allows the walls to fold up and become a roof. In a statement talking about the building’s design elements, Hen said: “The design of The Cube reinterprets the fluid, textile nature of carbon fibres by seamlessly merging the ceiling and walls in a single form, suggesting a future architecture in which environmentally conscious design is paired with formal freedom and a radical rethinking of essential architectural elements.
"The wall and ceiling are no longer separate components but functionally merge into one another as an organic continuum.” Displayed as a showpiece for TU Dresden’s major project, backed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, The Cube aims to explore the potential uses of carbon concrete in construction.
"Carbon concrete could contribute to more flexible and resource-saving construction processes, and switching to carbon concrete could reduce the CO2 emissions from construction by up to 50%," Henn said in a statement.
Bio-based carbon fibre under development to reduce carbon footprint
While carbon fibre may be lighter and stronger than steel, it has a much higher carbon footprint. Describing the material’s impact on the environment, Dr Erik Frank, Senior Carbon Scientist at the German Institute of Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), said it is “usually very bad.” To reduce the carbon footprint, Frank is finding ways to make carbon fibre out of lignin, a common plant-based substance found in the paper manufacturing industry.