Research at 1:1 Scale

Numerous research projects with research and industrial partners require a research centre of this scale. The following projects provide a brief insight into our activities.

PūHiko Nukutū - Hydrogen storage in caverns


This research will assess the technical viability, cost-effectiveness, and social-environmental impacts of storing large volumes (>50,000,000 Nm3) of hydrogen in sedimentary rock formations of the Taranaki Basin, New Zealand. It will secondarily investigate the petrophysical and geomechanical properties of crystalline rocks for hydrogen geostorage in artificial caves.


Pre-feasibility study for deep geothermal energy Tyrol

2022 - 2023

The aim of the project is an initial assessment of the potential for using deep geothermal energy in the Inn Valley. An extensive first data collection is carried out in an interdisciplinary team (geologists, geophysicists, earthquake researchers and geotechnicians).


Pre-feasibility study for deep geothermal energy Tyrol

2022 - 2023

The aim of the project is an initial assessment of the potential for using deep geothermal energy in the Inn Valley. An extensive first data collection is carried out in an interdisciplinary team (geologists, geophysicists, earthquake researchers and geotechnicians).


IGNITE - Improved assessment of the risk of forest fires in Austria

2022 - 2024

As part of IGNITE, the FWI is to be improved for all of Austria and the assessment of the risk of forest fires occurring is to be optimised. The basis for this are i) in-situ measurements in different forest types, ii) ignition tests in the center on the mountain of the Montanuniversität Leoben, iii) the creation of a spatially high-resolution (100x100m²) vegetation index on the risk of forest fires, taking into account tree species, gaps, litter moisture and topography as well as iv) the validation/re-parameterization of the FWI using existing forest fire data, the empirical data obtained and causal machine learning approaches.

GeoDrone - Automatic geological AI Interpretation of 3D Images from Outcrops acquired by a Drone

2021 - 2022

The aim of the project is the development, selection and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms or the new development of AI architectures to delimit geological facies areas from 3D drone photos. In addition, the algorithm should be used to automatically interpret and estimate petrophysical properties or geomechanical properties. In order to be able to achieve these goals, outcrops at the Zentrum am Berg (ZaB) in Eisenerz (Styria) are recorded with the help of a drone. In addition, geophysical and gemechanical measurements are carried out selectively on these outcrops. With this data and the developed AI workflow, an automatic interpretation should now be possible. As the training input continues to grow, this will work more precisely and faster.

MED1stMR - Medical First Responder Training using a Mixed Reality Approach

2021- 2024

The research project called MED1stMR (Medical First Responder Training using a Mixed Reality Approach) aims to better prepare medical first responders for stressful and highly complex disaster situations by developing advanced mixed-reality (MR) medical training with haptic feedback for enhanced realism. Increasing probabilities for natural disasters due to climate change, human-made accidents and terrorist threats require the development of innovative technological solutions adapted and implemented to the (cross-sectoral) needs of first responders. A mixed-reality training system that provides close-to-reality training allows the practice of medical action routines and thus helps to form confidence in action, faster reaction and coping strategies. Training in such MR environments will improve first responders’ resilience and effective performance in medical emergencies in highly complex and unpredictable situations. To support, assist and personalise medical first responder training, MED1stMR will integrate wearable technology for monitoring trainees’ physiological data. The smart electronic devices developed in the project can detect and transmit information regarding bio-signals informing about the trainees’ physiological status. This will provide insight for the debriefing sessions and can be used for real-time scenario control through the trainer (manual control) or automatically by the training system through artificial intelligence based adaptive smart scenarios.


NIKE-MED - Sustainable interdisciplinarity in complex operations underground - Medical Treatment

2021- 2023

Complex underground operations are also associated with a massive accumulation of typical injury patterns. A mass casualty incident is in itself a major challenge because of the need to provide medical care to a large number of patients within a very short time, but in a complex underground scenario this means an increased incidence of injury patterns that the health care system is not equipped - either nationally or internationally - to deal with. These injuries are
• poisoning caused by combustion gases, deliberately released toxic gases or other toxic substances from hazardous goods transports
• extensive burns
• heavily contaminated bullet and splinter injuries
• large-scale mechanical violence caused by parts of buildings or vehicles
• psychological disorders caused by extreme situations
• contamination with NBC substances, which also pose a risk to other persons and rescue forces
• injuries caused by the dynamics of mass panics
These injury patterns represent an extreme and require rapid initial care, triaging, assignment to the proper care chain, and transfer to specialist definitive care in specialized medical facilities as quickly as possible, utilizing available national and international capacity. NIKE MED evaluates the required and available emergency capacities, develops an application to optimize care for responders, and identifies development needs for building strategic reserve capacities. NIKE MED makes an essential contribution within the framework of the NIKE research and development program to achieving full operational readiness of a specialized task force with the capability to operate underground, thus adding essential value to state crisis and disaster management.


NIKE DHQ-RADIV - Digital Head Quarters - Development of Rapid Data Integration and Visualization as a core process of staff work

2021- 2023

Current and future assignments are extremely complex. Since the individual interdependencies can hardly be predicted in complex systems, it is imperative to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation in order to reduce this complexity and provide the decision-makers with the necessary management principles. Use in urban environments in particular requires the integration and visualization of enormous, often heterogeneous databases. On the one hand, the urban environment is extremely confusing and essential spaces are hidden from view; on the other hand, all infrastructure operators record a large amount of relevant information, the knowledge of which is essential for successful deployment. However, these data are often only accessible when needed and / or require interpretation by a technical expert before they can be used to good effect. This fact can be observed particularly well in the current ongoing experimental development of capabilities for operations underground.
NIKE RADIV is an essential sub-project of the overall NIKE program and will develop the process of rapid data integration and visualization of this information in a truly comprehensive Common Operational Picture. It is important to ensure the lateral continuity of different visualization systems in the entire reality - virtuality continuum (2D & 3D & Mixed Reality). Only individual applications are currently available, there is currently no collaborative collaboration option.


FCCIS - Future Circular Collider Innovation Study

2021 - 2024

The Future Circular Collider Innovation Study will deliver a conceptual design and an implementation plan for new research infrastructure, consisting of a 100 km long circular tunnel and a dozen surface sites. FCCIS will attract academic and industrial leaders to develop a feasible and affordable plan that incorporates eco-design and resource efficiency from an early stage. The project includes work with the host states, France and Switzerland, to ensure that the infrastructure blends in with the territorial boundary conditions. CSIL leads the WP set to develop the infrastructure project's financial roadmap, comprising cost estimates, financing plan, and socio-economic impact analysis. The socio-economic impact analysis will reveal the added value that this infrastructure will generate during its first phase and serve as the basis for developing a funding and implementation plan. This project emphasises the user capacity building process with theoretical and experimental physicists at an international scale to ensure exploitation of the facility from the start. 
The construction of the underground structures for the FCC would generate about 9 million cubic metres of excavated material – about three and a half times the Cheops pyramid. In line with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and following the best practices adopted by both of CERN’s Host States (France and Switzerland), the FCC project calls for a strategic approach to the management of excavated materials. The FCCIS is running the international competition “Mining the Future”, which takes up the challenge of turning the main excavation material, a soft sedimentary rock called molasse, into a resource.

DrainML - Automation and machine learning for tunnel drainage diagnostics

2021- 2023

As part of DrainML, a new type of machine learning-based solution for diagnostics of tunnel drainage pipes is being developed. In addition to the already existing automated cleaning of the drainage pipes, this should enable additional real-time diagnostics of these tunnel components.

Creation of a basis for the use of fiber-reinforced concrete segments in Austria

2021- 2024

Depending on the geological and geotechnical requirements and the associated driving methods, a wide variety of lining concepts are used for the permanent securing and stabilization of a tunnel structure, which must be able to withstand the loads of rock, mountain water and also operation over periods of at least a century. When using shielded tunnelling machines, the tunnel lining is carried out by means of reinforced precast concrete segments, so-called tubbings, following the rotating boring head. Until now, these segments could only be realized as rebar reinforced precast concrete elements due to the segment guidelines valid in Austria. The reinforcement cage of segments is complex and extremely costly to manufacture. In the meantime, fiber reinforced concrete has established itself internationally as a suitable alternative to the common steel reinforced concrete for special applications. The main objective of the project is to create a fundamental basis for the usage of fiber reinforced segments in Austria. For this purpose, the questions of design, production and quality assurance must be answered with sufficient depth. Mixing and manufacturing tests are required to determine the optimum properties of the fresh concrete as well as the fiber distribution and orientation. In addition, component and model tests are to be carried out, and the development of a computational model for the design and better characterization of segments is planned.

NIKE Submovecon - Sustainable interdisciplinarity for complex operations underground - Subsurface Movement Control

2020 - 2022

Terrorism becomes a more and more complex challenge to the security forces due to the particular exposure of human lives to threats in underground infrastructure. The Tokyo subway sarin attack of 1995 with the death of 13 people and 6000 left injured demonstrated that these attacks in railway, motorway and metro tunnels aim at causing a big number of life loss, casualties and wide spread panic. The objective of NIKE-SubMoveCon is to develop essential research results for strategies even against terrorists in situ using a multi-disciplinary approach which applies automated multisensory analysis, assistance systems as well as sociology of individuals and groups. This approach shall enable the generation of a common operational picture in real time which optimizes the operational command of the police, COBRA, army, rescue organization and fire brigade and hence substantially improves the safety of involved civil persons as well as personnel of the emergency services.

ROBO-MOLE - ROBOtics for 3D mapping, orientation and localization in underground deployment scenarios

2020 - 2022

The aim of ROBO-MOLE is to create increased safety for emergency services and affected civilians during operations in tunnels and other underground structures through the detection and identification of hazardous substances and automatic situation map creation and to enable an efficient operational sequence. For example, an accident in the transport of dangerous goods in a tunnel presents emergency organizations with major and dangerous challenges due to heat, structural hazards, smoke or released hazardous substances. That is why a semi-autonomous robot is designed for supporting analysis tasks, which is equipped with a wide range of sensors (position-giving, imaging and detecting hazardous substances). These are combined to enable safe navigation and control of the robot under difficult conditions (smoke, obstructed routes, heat, ...) and to be able to detect and map hazards.

Nike Bluetrack - Sustainable interdisciplinarity for complex operations underground / BLUE Force TRACKing

2020 - 2022

Complex operations underground are characterized by a lack of lighting and ventilation, the environmental conditions in a widely ramified infrastructure and a hybrid acting, proactive opponent and quickly push the emergency services to their performance limits with increasing depth of penetration. In such a scenario, underground orientation is essential. Due to the multi-dimensional branching of underground structures as well as the restricted view and the resulting difficulties in orientation, the exact positioning of one's own forces is vital.

AVANT - Adaptive planning of injection measures in tunnel construction using artificial intelligence

2020 - 2022

In order to grout and strengthen the rock mass, tunnelling might necessitate reinforcement ahead of the tunnel face like grouting. Since these measures diminish the excavation speed their efficient design is essential. Injection material, parameters and abort criterion are adjusted to the rock mass in situ which are readapted in case of need. Digital systems of data recording are mainly used in documentation for quality management purposes. In the project AVANT, this data should be exploited to render tunnelling and grouting measures involved more efficient and economic. The core concept is the processing and optimization of the construction workflow at an early stage in the underground environment instead of the sole archiving for documentation purposes. The utilization of methods of artificial intelligence will pursue several objectives e.g., to characterize the grouting parameters of the rock mass using drilling data, to estimate the reach of the grouting measures on the basis of typical pressure and quantity curves and to provide expert knowhow for inexperienced operators in a knowledge database.

TransIT - Platform for digital transformation in civil engineering and tunneling

2020 - 2024

In the TransIT project (platform for digital transformation in civil engineering and tunneling), research groups from the Montan University of Leoben, the Johannes Kepler University of Linz and the Technical University of Vienna are working multidisciplinary with complementary expertise on the implementation of digitization topics in civil engineering and tunneling.


BIM - based planning, construction and operating process management in tunnel construction

2020 - 2023

The aim of this project is to ensure interoperability despite different company-internal names in order not to impair internal company processes. For this purpose, a prototype platform is being developed on which the corporate standards and their terminology can be translated into other standards. An industry standard can then be proposed from the sum of the various standards.


DrainRepair - Adaptation of rehabilitation methods for drainage pipes in tunnel construction

2020 - 2023

Drainage systems are used in tunnel structures relieved of pressurized water for the permanent concentrated drainage of the groundwater. This measure is necessary in order to be able to build the tunnel at all in the event of higher overburden by the groundwater level, or it serves to enable a technically and economically expedient construction. To ensure the functionality of the structures, these drainages must be maintained and cleaned at regular intervals. Especially in the case of sintering that is difficult to remove, the effort for cleaning drainage pipes can increase exorbitantly, which not only results in higher maintenance costs and reduced availability of the tunnels, but also damage to the drainage pipes themselves The aim of the project in question is the selection and optimization of existing procedures for the rehabilitation of drainage pipes. Although the primary focus of this project is to be on the CIPP process, it must still be taken into account that in some cases other processes may be more suitable.


BRAFA - Fire effects of vehicles with alternative drive systems

2019 - 2021

Vehicles with alternative fuels and drive systems will be increasingly used for climate and environmental reasons. However, the behaviour of such vehicles in accidents under fire is still largely unexplored. This research project aims to significantly improve the state of knowledge about the development, consequences and risks of fires in vehicles with alternative drive systems. This is necessary in order to maintain the existing safety standard of the road infrastructure (mainly road tunnels) and to enable emergency services (fire brigade, but also rescue and first aid) to assess dangerous situations.

ETU-ZAB - Development of education and training standards for use in tunnel and underground infrastructures

2018 - 2021

Austria has a large amount of underground infrastructure such as road or railway tunnels, underground stations and tunnels, underground energy supply facilities, water supply and disposal facilities, communication infrastructure, underground mining facilities, underground car parks, mountain railways and similar. In the case of road tunnels alone, a total of 164 tunnels with a length of 383 km are currently in operation, and in the case of railway tunnels there are 246 installations with a total length of 254 km. The fire catastrophes in Kaprun, in the Mont Blanc and Tauern tunnels, but also terrorist attacks such as those in the London and St. Petersburg underground railways and, last but not least, the Lassing mine accident, support the need to intensify efforts to ensure safety.

The goals are increasing safety in underground structures both during the construction and the operating phase. These events also highlight the need for a cross-disciplinary collaboration and further development of competencies for handling operations in underground infrastructures.

For this reason, the consortium brings together the most important organisations and infrastructure operators involved in events in underground infrastructures in order to pool existing emergency competencies in the areas of prevention, post-event management and safety optimisation of such infrastructures.



As part of the research project NIKE (NIKE stands for Sustainable Interdisciplinarity in Complex Operations Underground), the Austrian Armed Forces are involved in an interdisciplinary approach with procedures for coping with complex underground operations, carrying out the necessary training and developing a VR-compatible 3D environment for operations management and training. The Zentrum am Berg offers the ideal research, development and training platform. The partnership between the Armed Forces Command and the Montanuniversität Leoben enables an optimal exchange within the framework of experimental skill development.


GEMEG - Geophysical-geomechanical rock classification for conventional and unconventional tunneling

2018 - 2021

This FFG Bridge project aims to revolutionize tunnel prediction by developing new geophysical measurements, deriving newly advanced mathematical analyses and linking it to unknown existing geotechnical challenges in order to reduce tunnel face failure and improve work safety. These unknowns include an adequate description of rock at and ahead of the tunnel advance machines in conventional and mechanical tunneling. For mechanized tunneling a new mathematical description of the transfer function whose computational implementation will be driven and can be used for conventional tunneling. The project aims to improve the work safety, the reliability of the schedule and economic realization of tunnel projects, strengthen the international value of Austrian tunneling know-how and keep it a global player in the future industry.


RecyMin - recycling of artificial mineral fibers

2018 - 2022

When buildings are dismantled or converted, large amounts of mineral wool waste arise. Recycling of this waste is currently not feasible in Austria, so mineral wool waste must be dumped. The aim of the RecyMin project is to send mineral wool waste to recovery and recycling in the future.

As a result, the project creates the basis for improving landfill properties through targeted processing steps, mineral wool waste can be introduced into the cement industry as a substitute raw material or additive, mineral wool waste can be introduced as rock backfill products and a concept is created for its return to the mineral wool industry.

Disaster risk in tunnels

Disaster risk is a complex concept affected by many impact dimensions. Hazardous events cannot be eliminated entirely, but a better understanding of the situation enables rapid and effective decisions to save lives, protect health and stabilize critical infrastructure functions within a highly dynamic environment. Tunnel safety is the main focus of the research in the understanding of the processes of risk assessment, modelling of possible accident scenarios and improving the existing training concepts for emergency personnel.



2015 - 2018

The RICAS2020 design study for the European underground research infrastructure related to Advanced Adiabatic Compressed Air Storage (AA-CAES) will provide concepts for the construction of a research infrastructure for the underground storage of very large amounts of green energy. The great advantage of the new concepts is that underground energy storage can be carried out independently of geological conditions and also at all locations with high energy requirements.

RICAS2020 is being built as an extension of the research infrastructure research at Zentrum am Berg.


2015 - 2018

In the near future, the European civil engineering industry is expected to extract some 800 million tonnes of mineral resources from tunnels, underground railways and other underground structures such as underground power stations, sewage tunnels, etc. Currently, this excavated material is usually disposed of in landfills. Efficient use on site or in other industrial sectors is therefore of great economic and ecological interest.