Bio-Energy Research Institute
EBRI is a £7m, three storey steel framed building located in the heart of the Aston University Birmingham campus which was completed in 2013. The building comprises industrial laboratories, offices and CHP engines in the basement and a Gasifier to research bio-fuels.
The building is a research facility investigating special kinds of feedstock, such as Algae, by cultivating them in Photo bio-reactors. Research is also carried out on test engines for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation, as well as Hydrogen production from synthesis gas out of the gasification process.
The project retains a listed Portico building that is to be reconfigured internally to transform it into a modern teaching and office facility. An intensive structural survey of the building was required, as the majority of the internal load-bearing walls were to be removed whilst retaining the floor structure and external facade.
The ground conditions dictated a piled substructure solution be adopted, with the use of bored piles to limit the vibration and subsequent damage to the Portico. A new plant room basement is to be cut into the ground, resulting in the need for reinforced concrete retaining walls.
The superstructure to the building comprises a steel frame to allow for future flexibility of internal spaces and precast concrete floor units to speed up the construction process. Traditional masonry cavity walls are to be utilised for the external walls, with a lime mortar to reduce shrinkage and limit the amount of movement joints (which would detract from the visual appearance of the building).