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.
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.
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.
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.
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.