A KTP collaboration between City, University of London, and construction engineering specialist Keltbray, is developing innovative Sustainable Reusable Pile (or Hollow Pile) technology which promises to substantially reduce carbon emissions from piling foundations. City has just signed an exclusive licence agreement with Keltbray for the development of this new technology for more sustainable deep foundation design and construction.

Hollow piles reduce the embodied carbon within bored piling foundations by reducing the volume of concrete required in each pile. Hollow piles potentially can be used for geothermal heating too, as the hollow core can be put to use. Both will have significant carbon reduction benefits. 

According to an article on City’s website “Keltbray is working with construction partners on combining the product with low carbon concretes in order to further reduce the embodied carbon within the piles by up to 90% (compared to traditional bored piles) depending on the diameter. Further advantages are gained through an increase in productivity from a reduction in concrete pouring times due to the reduced volume required.

Keltbray has also partnered with UK geothermal contracting specialists G-Core to develop the user interface and market for geothermal energy storage and generation within the Hollow piles. Early trials indicate performance enhancement of over 60% in terms of geothermal conductivity compared to traditional energy piles”.

Collaboration via KTP is a tried and tested approach which, for over 45 years, has linked innovation-focused businesses with specialist academic teams to realise key strategic goals. Each partnership is supported by a Knowledge Transfer Adviser from KTN – in this project it is Dr Matthew Hogan who commented: “The licensing agreement between City and Keltbray is a big step towards the commercialisation of the innovative Hollow Pile technology.  The KTP approach facilitates both the transfer of knowledge to Keltbray and supports the final field testing of the technology. Keltbray is primed to be in a position to commercialise this innovation leading to significant carbon reduction both in construction and in the operation of the buildings they will support, making a positive contribution to the UK’s net zero agenda”.

Stuart Norman, Managing Director for Keltbray’s Piling Division, said:

“This agreement and transfer of ownership of IP is a major success for the KTP scheme. Implementing the product within construction and infrastructure projects will have a huge impact on carbon-reduction, specifically when considering the whole life cycle costing benefits that the combination of a deep pile foundation with combined energy storage and generation potential will bring”.

Dr Andrew McNamara, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at City, added:

Hollow piles are an exciting part of our contribution in this area because developers will begin to regard construction of these highly sustainable deep foundations as an investment in a valuable asset that will continue to add value long after they are first constructed.  We are delighted that Keltbray…will be commercialising this green technology that has substantial benefits over conventional piling methods, opening up new and exciting opportunities in the construction sector”.

This KTP was co-funded by Innovate UK.

Funding competitions for KTP are open throughout the year. If you think a partnership with a specialist academic team within the UK Knowledge Base could help your business deliver a key innovation project, find out more about KTP here. 


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