Francisco Centeno Dias, Civil Engineering MSc student (Geotechnical engineering), won the Young Geotechnical Award in Portuguese Language, delivered by the Portuguese Geotechnical Society (SPG). “More important than winning, is the opportunity that I had to present my work to an audience with so much more experienced professionals. For a young engineer, it is very rewarding” says Francisco Centeno Dias.
The work was supervised by professor Rafaela Cardoso and focuses on soil improvement using biocementation. “It is a relatively recent technique in Civil Engineering, which consists of using bacteria to produce calcium carbonate (biocement), in order to improve the hydraulic and mechanical properties of soil”, explains the Técnico alumnus. According to Francisco Centeno Dias “the work that I jointly developed at the Laboratory of Geotechnics (Labgeo) and the Bioengineering Laboratory at Técnico, resulted in different patterns of biocement distribution in the soil”.
The application of this technique required the development of an experimental procedure and the creation of a chamber that allowed the injection of bacteria in the soil. “The work is ultimately interesting from a laboratory and academic point of view because it was not only an iterative process of improving the experimental procedures needed for the biocement process, requiring the use of expertise from different IST departments, but also because it will allow to apply the technique in the field”, says the Técnico alumnus.
“Besides contributing to the advancement of knowledge of this technique at national level, this thesis also generated widespread interest in my fellow engineers regarding potential uses of the technique in construction, which was something that I felt especially after the Young Geotechnical Engineers competition”, said Francisco Centeno Dias. “The possibility of witness the application of biocementation technique within a few years is inspiring and stimulating, particularly for someone like me, who started working just over 5 months ago”, says the Técnico alumnus, who is currently a junior engineer at AQUALOGUS. Cliff stabilisation, erosion slope protection systems and gully formation are some of the applications of this technique.
The Young Geotechnical Award in Portuguese Language recognises relevant works both to the progress of technical and scientific knowledge, as well as to the resolution of national problems in the field of Geotechnical Engineering.