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Steel-concrete composite structures and circular economy

Bradford hosts a leading research group in steel-concrete composite structures , including composite beams and concrete-filled steel tubes.  Our current research projects are focussed on structures and are demountable to promote reuse at the end of life and circular economy.  Several large-scale tests have been conducted on our strong floor facility in addition to finite element simulations.

REBUILD - Regenerative Buildings and products for a circular economy (EPSRC) 

REBUILD proposes that materials are directly reused and remanufactured into new builds with minimal re-processing. The project proposes a new circular economy system to address key barriers in the current linear approaches to demolition and new building construction, and build capabilities and tools to create significant new value by the early adoption of novel technologies, high value remanufacture, new system arrangements and the scaling up good practices. The magnitude of the opportunity is considerable. 
REBUILD starts the process of converting all current building at the end of their first life and future buildings into material and product banks allowing the retention of high value materials and products for future repeat reuse. The cost of transport and storage means that repair, remanufacture and reuse of products to be commercially successful will need to be regional/local scale. To create demand acceptance for re-used products REBUILD testing processes are designed to demonstrate industry standards of quality assurance of technical performance. 

The project will quantify, measure and evaluate the magnitude of value creation and product re-use for different system configurations and scenarios against a Business as Usual (BAU) reference case. Continual interactions with the industrial stakeholder group, and through their networks the wider construction industry, will make sure that the direction of our project stays close to industrial needs and the outcomes of our research are communicated to the industry in the most effective way.


University of Exeter
University of Manchester

Structural and Fire Resistance of a Reusable Steel/Concrete Composite Floor System (EPSRC)

This project aims to develop a reusable composite floor system to be used in steel/concrete composite structures. It is important that this method of construction is developed as a mainstream structural engineering solution, rather than limited to very special conditions, so as to maximize the benefits of design and construction of reusable structural components at the end of life. 

The proposed reusable floor system is a totally different form of construction, with new modes of structural behaviour that have not been investigated before. A complete rethink of composite floor structural and fire engineering design is necessary to ensure safety of the proposed floor system. Extensive new physical tests at ambient and elevated temperatures and in fire for the different components of the proposed floor system have been planned to identify the different modes of behaviour and failure of the system. Supplemented by extensive numerical simulations, this project will develop thorough understanding of the structural and fire performance of the new structural system to develop practical design methods. This project will be carried out in collaboration between the Universities of Bradford and Manchester, which have international leading experiences in composite structural behaviour and design at ambient temperature and in fire, and have dedicated and experienced research teams and experimental facilities.


University of Manchester


Reuse and Demountability using Steel Structures and the Circular Economy (RFCS)

The project will provide methodologies, tools and guidance to assist in design for deconstruction, particularly of composite steel structures for multi-storey buildings. This will lead to new shear connection systems for demountable composite construction, based on push tests and beam tests to verify composite action and to develop design rules.

The whole life benefits of reusable structures will be quantified using LCA and circular economy indicators. Opportunities for greater standardisation and the use of BIM will be explored to facilitate deconstruction. A demonstration of demountability of the developed system is planned. 


Steel Construction Institute
TU Delft
University of Luxembourg
TATA Steel
Lindab S.A.
Stichting Bouwen Met Staal
AEC3 Ltd

Slim-Floor Beams - Preparation of Application rules in view of improved safety, functionality and LCA (RFCS)

The aim is to increase the competitiveness of steel in buildings by developing an integral and holistic approach for the application of flooring systems with steel slim floor beams, regarding different technical aspects of these solutions as well as lifecycle assessment. By use of new and optimized shear connector systems, the application of the slim floor system will be optimized regarding the erection time and high efficiency as well as reduced input of materials which leads to beneficial effects for the LCA calculation. Concerning the technical quality general design rules for slim floor solutions will be developed. Currently the design approach is ruled by national application of single or manufacturer-specific slim floor solutions. With the development of integral rules, the application rules will be simplified and generalized for slim floor systems.

The project will be the first to address the requirements for design of composite slim floor beams and to provide a holistic design approach with planned composite action between the steel profile and the concrete slab, considering all aspects of the technical design. The planned design rules will be based on adaptation of the current design principles and rules of Eurocodes. However specific parametric tests on the structural behaviour will lead to new design rules regarding the specifications of slim floor beam solutions.
In addition to the design rules, recommendations and guidelines for practical application of slim floor systems will be developed.                                          


University of Stuttgart
University of Trento
University of Luxembourg
Steel Construction Institute
Arcelor Mittal

Development of improved shear connection rules in composite beams (DISCCO)

This research, in the area of composite construction, is related to the behaviour of shear connectors in composite beams. The work has underpinned design treatments in British, European and other national standards for composite construction.

Finite element models were developed and have been confirmed against the results of laboratory tests to properly represent each major facet of behaviour and this has permitted a better understanding of the complex load transfer mechanisms.

The tested specimen is 15.6m in length and 3.0m in width. It is the largest specimen has been tested in laboratory for composite cellular beam in the Europe.

Collaborative research partners

  • The Steel Construction Institute, UK
  • University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • Arcelor Mittal Profil, Luxembourg,


  • EU Research Fund for Coal and Steel
  • GroundForce Shorco Ltd.

Structural steel elliptical hollow sections

This EPSRC-funded research looks at the behaviour of elliptical steel hollow sections.

The development of design rules will have an immediate impact upon industry by enabling designers to design using this form of structure.

Based on this project, we are carrying out further collaborative research with world leading universities; Tsinghua University (China) and Warwick University (UK), on buckling, crushing, bending and structural fire behaviour of stub, slender concrete filled tube columns and joint assemblies with various steel hollow sections and materials.

Collaborative partners

  • Imperial College London
  • Corus
  • Oval
  • Steel Construction Institute



INNERS - INNovative Energy Recovery Strategies within the Urban Water Cycle

INNERS “INNovative Energy Recovery Strategies within the Urban Water Cycle” is an EU Interreg IVB NWE funded research project.

Inners project aims to identify and exploit opportunities for energy recovery and reuse of energy within the urban water cycle.

The research work at the University of Bradford primarily focuses on:

  • Enhancing the recovery and dissipation of thermal energy for heating and cooling of residential houses from interaction with the local storm water (in collaboration with Kirklees Council.
  • Developing an energy balance assessment tool for the urban water cycle (in collaboration with all partners).
  • Modelling of thermal energy fluxes over the whole urban drainage system to identify opportunities for action and to value the recovery and re-use of such energy (in collaboration with Aqufin, Belgium).


Researchers at the University of Bradford work closely with another 10 partners from academia, industry and local authorities.

  • Kirklees Council, UK
  • Water Board Groot Salland, Netherlands
  • Water Board Vallei en Veluwe, Netherlands
  • Wupperverband, Germany
  • Lille Metropole, France
  • Vlario, Belgium
  • Aquafin, Belgium
  • Siden, Luxemburg
  • Henri Tudor, Luxemburg
  • University of Luxemburg, Luxemburg

Steel-concrete composite structures and circular economy team