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Soil discussion meeting at the heart of brownfield regeneration site

Janet Bailey demonstrates state of the art equipment at the National Brownfield Institute including Spot the Robot Dog

The University of Wolverhampton’s National Brownfield Institute dug deep when it hosted the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) Midlands Soil Discussion Group Meeting recently. 

The National Brownfield Institute (NBI), based at the University’s £120m Springfield Construction Super Campus, is a world-class research centre that provides the facility to develop modern methods of building through innovation and partnership with the construction industry, focusing on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration and remediation through the work of research teams, leading policy development and commercial services.  

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) is an established international membership organisation committed to the study of soil in its widest aspects. The Society brings together those working within academia, practitioners implementing soil science in industry and all those working with, or with an interest in soils. 

Mike Fullen (Professor of Soil Technology in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University) said: “The remit of the NBI includes the ability to undertake analysis of soil samples, water samples and site conditions. During the meeting we visited the laboratories, particularly focusing on the X-Ray analytical suite. The tour also included the array of microscopes in the laboratories, especially the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Transmission Microscope (TM).  

“The NBI also houses state-of-the-art technology, including the ‘Igloo’ Immersive Visualization Suite. The Igloo allows 360-degree projection of images and virtual reality (VR) presentations as well as our Boston Dynamics robot dog, ‘Spot’ which has the capability to assist investigations of brownfield sites and buildings and ensure associated personnel are not exposed to dangerous toxins, such as asbestos. 

“Analysis of digital data is a crucial component of activities at the NBI and visitors were able to view the ongoing development of digital maps and 3D imagery of brownfield sites in the Black Country as well as taking a look at the latest wearable and hand-held laser scanning devices which support brownfield regeneration activities.” 

Sarah Garry, Executive Officer of the British Society of Soil Science said: “We were delighted that the BSSS Midlands Soil Discussion Group Meeting was hosted at the University of Wolverhampton’s National Brownfield Institute. This event provided our members with the opportunity to meet and network, whilst learning about the latest industry research and developments at the fantastic Springfield Campus. We want to thank the University of Wolverhampton for their hospitality and we hope to collaborate with them again in future.” 

The NBI benefited from £14.9million of funding from the Government’s Getting Building Fund for the West Midlands. City of Wolverhampton Council worked closely with the Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to secure the funding with the remainder provided by the Government’s Towns Fund.   

The 12-acre Springfield Campus, a brownfield regeneration project, is already home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the recently opened £45million School of Architecture and Built Environment.    

These facilities, combined with the NBI, will lay the foundation for the delivery of a National Centre for Sustainable Construction and Circular Economy, which will focus on sustainability and the climate change emergency.   

ISG was awarded the contract to build the NBI on the construction super campus, with work starting in April 2021. The £17.5million research centre, designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects, received planning approval in December 2020.    

Anyone interested in courses being offered in the Faculty of Science and Engineering should check out the website or register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.     


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