How is damage to concrete caused in a fire? What exactly happens when concrete ‘rots’? And how can we make a lossless ‘thermal battery’ so you no longer need to use gas or electricity to heat your home? Questions like these are central at the TU/e Darcy Lab, which officially opened in February 2014. To get the answers, the researchers will use advanced hospital equipment to investigate how water and the salts dissolved in it are transported in porous materials.
Work on the new magnet laboratory, called the 'Darcy Lab' and is situated in Gemini building North at the TU/e campus, has opened since February 2014.
Darcy (1803-1858) was the French engineer who laid the foundations for our current knowledge about transport phenomena in porous media, and it is this that will form the common ground for the research to be conducted by the TPM group in this high-end laboratory. The lab will become one of the campus' most precious assets, as it is unique in many ways.
From a scientific point of view, the lab is special because it is a state-of-the-art 'warehouse' of technological materials. Its combined CT and MRI technology, unequalled in any other university, will offer up a treasure trove of new information relating to transport phenomena in porous materials. The knowledge will be able to be applied to countless fields, from research into energy storage ('thermal batteries') and the fire behaviour of concrete to the study of preservation in historical objects and freeze-drying processes for the pharmaceutical industry.
In addition to its high-tech facilities, the lab will also boast a phenomenal appearance. Real Estate Management and the architect have created a surprisingly appealing building: an extensive use of glass and transparency create many see-through elements. The walls will be decorated with portraits of scientists, quotations and formulas that will go to help create the atmosphere in the lab.
Transferring the 'old' TPM lab to the new Darcy Lab was an enormous task. This was not only due to the size and weight of the equipment, but also because the lab needed to be put together in such a way that its activities do not interfere with any of the other research work being conducted in the surrounding area. The amount of radio-frequency EM radiation and X-rays from the CT had to be minimised. Measures taken to achieve this included building vast quantities of lead into the walls. So the Darcy Lab is truly 'heavy-duty'!
The Darcy Lab breaks with the tradition of having one faculty per building. The new lab's catalytic function has already attracted the Energy Technology group from the faculty of Mechanical Engineering as an active participant and user. The lab has been positioned to be a perfect, integral fit for the TU/e, enabling us to do more in a smaller area, and therefore is fully in line with our Campus 2020 vision.