Ice splinters marked the inauguration of new laboratories

Tuesday 04 Dec 18
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Niels-Jørgen Aagaard
Head of Department
DTU Civil Engineering
+45 45 25 18 77
On Wednesday, 28 November, HRH Crown Prince Frederik spearheaded the inauguration of two new laboratories.

With the opening of the new DTU laboratories, we will gain new insight into the underground and the structures we build in or on it.

To celebrate this, Crown Prince Frederik shattered a core of Greenlandic permafrost, which is one of the research areas of DTU Civil Engineering’s new laboratories for technical geology, geotechnics, and circular civil engineering.

Just over 200 industry guests, students, researchers, and representatives from the Greenlandic government attended the opening ceremony.

“These two new world-class laboratories are crucial to our mission of benefitting society. The research focuses on our infrastructure—for example bridges, roads, and airports—and how we can make our underground ‘smarter’ and save resources on bridge and road maintenance, leaky pipes, and cracked foundations. In addition, it focuses on the development of new sustainable building materials that are also suitable for the needs and resources of the Artic,” said Anders Bjarklev in his opening speech.

Symposium on Arctic construction
As a prelude to the opening ceremony and inauguration of the new laboratories, DTU Civil Engineering hosted a symposium on Arctic construction.

At his own wish, Crown Prince Frederik attended the symposium. The Crown Prince is familiar with the area from his four-month expedition with the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol in 2000, which went from Quanaaq in North-Western Greenland to Daneborg in East Greenland.

Peter Langen of the Danish Meteorological Institute opened the symposium by offering an insight into climate change, both globally and in the Arctic. Researchers predict that Arctic temperatures will rise significantly until the end of the 21st century, and that the Greenlandic climate will experience a 50 per cent increase in the number of days with large amounts of precipitation.

“Today, less than half of the precipitation in Greenland falls as rain, but at the end of this century, Greenlanders will find that the majority of precipitation will fall as rain,” said Peter Langen.

He pointed out the paradoxical phenomenon of sea levels dropping despite the ice cap melting, due, among other thins, to the fact that the bedrock will rise as the pressure from the ice cap decreases.

Permafrost thawing
The warmer climate leads to a thawing of the permafrost, which causes subsidence damage and other challenges to construction work in the Arctic.

Associate Professor Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen presented results from research in Greenland where DTU is mapping the extent and properties of the permafrost with bores and geophysical methods.
“Measurements in cities such as Greenland’s third largest city Illulisat have shown that a larger number of houses than previously thought are built on permafrost and affected by subsidence damage. The mapping is part of the development of a system for risk assessment of permafrost infrastructure and can be used to support decision-making for the Greenlandic authorities,” said Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen.

Poor indoor climate
While the changing weather and freeze-thaw cycles challenge structures from the outside, Assistant Professor Martin Kotol of DTU Civil Engineering offered a look into the indoor climate of Greenland homes, where poor ventilation and mould fungi are a big problem.

Current experiments with mechanical ventilation show great potential for improving the indoor climate. Test house readings show that the accumulation of CO2 in bedrooms is up to four times higher than the recommended level, but that mechanical ventilation can bring air quality down to a normal level.

Other results from indoor climate and energy research show that Greenland has a great potential for putting solar energy for heating homes into much greater use, as the number of sunny days from spring to autumn is very high.

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