Iowa hydraulic engineers are helping clean London’s River Thames


IIHR’s London tunnels team: Ali Reza Firoozfar, Andy Craig, David Crawford (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Jacob Odgaard, Bernard Woolfe (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Brandon Barquist, Joss Plant (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Stephen Browne, and Troy Lyons.
IIHR’s London tunnels team: Ali Reza Firoozfar, Andy Craig, David Crawford (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Jacob Odgaard, Bernard Woolfe (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Brandon Barquist, Joss Plant (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Stephen Browne, and Troy Lyons.

London’s River Thames is being flooded with sewer waste, and researchers at the University of Iowa are contributing to the problem’s solution.

Hydraulic engineers at the IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering are building scaled models of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 16-mile tunnel running under the Thames that will prevent waste from spilling into the river for at least the next 100 years. The tunnel system will have a massive environmental impact, both for humans and for surrounding wildlife.

London’s current sewer system, built in the mid 1860’s, was an engineering feat of its time, mitigating waste from the city’s two million inhabitants to treatment plants away from the famous River Thames. Yet today, with eight million Londoners inundating the Victorian-era sewer system with 55 million tons of raw sewage last year, the city is planning a new system that will take nine years to construct at a cost of $7 billion – making it the world’s largest wastewater infrastructure project.

The designers of the project have turned to IIHR to construct models needed to test the final designs of the tunnel system. IIHR even developed some of the components used in the final design, like a drop shaft that allows water to spiral from street level to the tunnel.

IIHR engineers have extensive experience with deep tunnel systems around the country and around the world. For more information about IIHR’s contribution to the Thames Tideway Tunnel, visit iihr.uiowa.edu.

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