Innovation in infrastructure construction

Discover our main lines of research for construction projects and major works

CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY CENTRE

The Construction Technology Centre, located in Madrid, Spain, serves as a mega-innovation laboratory where ACCIONA designs sustainable infrastructures prepared to deal with the worst effects of the climate emergency.

The Construction Technology Centre has the aim to provide, to the works, technologicalproducts or services, to provide a competitive and differential value compared to othercompanies in the sector, to generate a positive impact in terms of cost or time, and which contribute to minimise environmental and social damage.

 

Our employees and people design solutions to optimise construction processes, as well as new technologies and materials that are more efficient at the work site, to reduce the potential impact on nature.

The Technology Centre carries out its research projects in four large areas:

  • Digitization of construction processes
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of the construction projects
  • New materials
  • Optimised construction processes

Main lines of research for construction projects

CONSTRUCTIVE PROCESS DIGITALISATION

ACCIONA developed a Digital Platform for Earthworks control that can carry out comprehensive control and monitoring of the equipment involved in the earthworks to optimise operations, ensure traceability of the soils and improve the productivity of any project. The company collects data through Machine Learning and Data analytics for predictive maintenance.

The Tunnel Boring Machine Control Centre, manages and controls in realtime the performance of the different TBMs in operation in our projects. The TBM Data Control Center processes information from more than 300 sensors every 250 ms (milliseconds) received from each TBM to control the tunnel machine’s progress, deliver KPI-based performance reports, and apply machine learning algorithms using data analytics for predictive maintenance.

In tunnels, ACCIONA has also developed DIGITUNNEL, to carry out the digitization and real-time follow up of all of the construction processes inconventional tunnel construction.

ACCIONA runs an open innovation programme where some of its technical challenges are shared and the company attracts and cooperates with world-class start-ups. One of the projects developed as part of the I’MNOVATION Startups Programme used drones in tunnels to optimise and digitise the construction process. The use of drones allows ACCIONA to obtain an accurate survey model able to incorporate into the BIM model, volumetric calculations, progress follow up or tracking work and safety conditions for the employees.

Reducing the environmental footprint of the construction projects

ACCIONA develops circular economy solutions based on the creation of industrial symbiosis synergies for the improvement of the ground conditions in our projects. Often, soils do not meet the technical specifications that are required by the design of the infrastructure and must be discarded or treated for improving its technical characteristics. ACCIONA has implemented technological innovation that facilitates the use of industrial waste as secondary raw materials in construction for improving the soil conditions and avoid its disposal to a landfill.

For example, the company has used waste paper ash as an alternative hydraulic road binder to replace cement and/or lime to carry out these ground treatments.

Use of autonomous generating equipment for construction sites with no access to the electrical grid based on the use of renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cell or PV instead of diesel.

New materials

COMPOSITES

Composites are made up of resins and fibers which, when combined, allow for the creation of a new material that provides much better performance than that achieved by the materials separately. Composites stand out for:

  • their lightness (up to 10 times lighter than traditional materials)
  • their mechanical resistance
  • electromagnetic transparency
  • high resistance to corrosion.

CONCRETE

ACCIONA also innovates in concrete with initiatives related to solutions to corrosion problems, increasing the durability of infrastructures in adverse climatic conditions such as maritime or sulphate rich soils, as well as to reduce the environmental footprint aiming for low-carbon concrete structures.

For example, the company has used hydrophobic coatings for protecting concrete structures in marine environment or polymeric or steel short fiber to replace steel re-bars in the TBM tunnel segments.

Optimised construction processes

ACCIONA innovates with a new short-range (up to 4 m) geological survey technique for tunnels with TBM for predicting the ground conditions ahead of the tunnel face. This allows the company to reduce geological uncertainty by viewing results in real time, without any impact on the tunnel machine’s productivity as well as reducing the risk of the TBM getting stuck or delayed due to geological unplanned events.

 

In tunnels, ACCIONA also innovates by designing and patenting a laser to avoid over-breaking in conventional tunnel boring and to adjust the excavation section to the project’s design section. In real time, the laser continuously projects and geo-references the excavation section over over the tunnel face. This enables up to 65% improvement in digging accuracy and reduces cost overruns in materials, time and personnel.

 

ACCIONA has developed a new slab-track concept for railways. The solution provides higher level of modularity, a higher vibration attenuation and reduces the maintenance costs along the infrastructure lifespan

Main construction projects

Eocene project

Its objective is to develop and validate new composite materials so that all of
their elements come from renewable sources, and to draft and implement advanced strategies for reusing and recycling the waste produced by these materials

Technologies developed in concrete

Implementation of the technologies developed in concrete at the site of Malolos and at the site of Cebu (The Philippines); in the first one, with the value added of the technology applied to thermal control, guaranteeing the quality and resilience of the structures.

Innovation with a collaborative approach

ACCIONA's Construction business takes a collaborative approach in its Technological Centre activities, cooperating with public and private institutions, both universities and research centres, as well as industries and companies providing public and private services.

Innovation projects in construction

Key figures

Accelerating innovation

We have collaborated with more than 500 institutions on different projects, with more than 100 universities in the last 10 years and have participated in more than 100 cooperative R&D projects supported by the European Commission through the previous FP7 framework programme (2007-2013). Currently, with its successor H2020 (2014-2020), we are involved in more than 50 community initiatives to promote and support R&D in the European Union.

50

community initiatives to promote and support R&D in the European Union

+100

Cooperative R&D projects supported by the European Commission

+500

Institutions

+100

Universities in the last 10 years

OUR OWN TECHNOLOGIES

TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS FOR CONSTRUCTION

In our construction technology centre we bring to life solutions that strengthen infrastructures against the effects of global warming.