Development of Sustainable Raised-Floor Products
Unit(s) of assessment: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
Research theme: Sustainable Futures
School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
This collaborative project is supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology China. The consortium consists of eight teams from the UK and China, including research institute, universities and industrial partners. NTU is the leader of the UK teams and a key technology provider. The product developed by this research is manufactured by Chongqing Polycomp International Corp, China, a large state-owned manufacturer of composite material products.
Addressing the Challenge
The raised floor system, also known as an access floor system, provides underneath space with advantages for power cable installation, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, etc. It has been widely used in various types of buildings such as offices, computer rooms, shops, schools, and residential areas. This project is to develop a new type of floor panel and associated stringer for a raised floor system with novel sustainable features. As a multi-disciplinary project, the research involves product lifecycle assessment, eco-design and manufacture, finite element analysis, composite materials and other related technologies.
Professor Daizhong Su is Professor of Design Engineering and Head of the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre. As a principal investigator or co-investigator, he successfully conducted/conducts a number of collaborative research projects supported by the European Commission, research councils, governmental departments, regional development agencies, industries, and other external funding bodies. Professor Su leads the research of eco-design and manufacture and lifecycle assessment in this project.
Dr Anton Ianakiev is Associate Professor in Finite Element Analysis. His research and teaching are focused on using numerical simulation in heat transfer, sustainable materials, structures and buildings, energy efficient buildings, low temperature district heating. Dr Ianakiev is currently leading for Nottingham in the REMOURBAN H2020 Smart Cities and Communities project, and led a Knowledge Transfer (KTP) project to develop a unique completely composite and high quality floor panel. Dr Ianakiev leads the research of strength analysis and material selection in this project.
Making a Difference
There are two major problems of raised-floor products currently available in the market: they are too heavy in mass, and lack consideration of their environmental impact.
Different from the existing products, the raised-floor product developed by this project has the following features:
- Light weight: The product is approximately 50% or more lighter than the existing flooring products. The panel is made of glass fibre reinforced polymer. This type of composite material has higher strength to weight ratio in comparison the materials used in other types of raised floor panels.
- High strength: The product compliances with a safety factor of Class 3 and Class A in deformation under the Working Load, which shows the strong possible panel under BSEN Certification and PSA MOB PF2 PS.
- High usability and durability: As shown in the figure, due to the three-piece-tile (200*600*33 mm*3) panel design, the flooring product embraces more flexibility features through its life cycle. It is easy to transport, easy to handle and adjustment. Furthermore, there are no additional floor cover or finishing since the colour and texture are naturally within the composite material, maintenance during use becomes more flexible. Surface problems, such as colour faded and edge curls which lead the failure of the product, is avoided. Thus, the product is designed to have a longer serve life.
- Ease of manufacture: In comparison to traditional raised floor panels such as sandwich panels, fabricate the new product’s manufacturing process is much simple, since it is pultrusion fabricated. Manufacturing procedure such as injection and welding which are essential for traditional raised flooring production is eliminated.
- Ease of assembly and disassembly: There is a convex and concave chamfer edge on each side of one module tile (200*200mm), the modular tile is interlock when a convex chamfer edge aligns with a corresponding concave chamfer edge, thus adhesives or fasten members are not required to join.
- Recyclable: The flooring panel is completely made from Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP). It is recyclable material which can be remanufactured into cement products (Yang et al. 2012; Strathclyde 2017). Stringer material is carbon steel which is reusable.
NTU team collaborates with the following partners in conducting the project
- Chongqing Academy of Science and Technology, China
- Southeast University, China
- Chongqing University of Technology, China
- Chongqing University of Technology and Business, China
- Chongqing Xanest Co. Ltd, China
- Chongqing Polycomp International Corp, China
- Harbin Engineering University base of NTU PhD programme
- Northumbria University, UK