Research Labs and Facilities
CEE at Illinois is one of the nation’s best-equipped programs, with a broad range of facilities for civil and environmental engineering education and research.
In addition to the labs listed below, most faculty have labs for their own research groups. Visit individual faculty profiles to find links to research group websites.
Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory
The Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory (VTCHL) is an 11,000 square foot lab in the CEE Building that supports research and teaching on river meandering, coastal erosion, oceanic turbidity currents, sedimentation engineering, environmental fluid mechanics and hydraulic structures. Laboratory capabilities include physical and numerical modeling, computational fluid dynamics and field research.
- Flumes for teaching open-channel hydraulics, sediment transport and hydraulic structures
- Tanks and flumes to research density driven flows and their sediment deposits
- Large oscillating water and sediment tunnel for waves and currents
- Kinoshita meandering flume for erosion, sedimentation and morphology
- Particle image velocimetry systems and 3D acoustic velocimetry systems
- Sedimentation lab with particle size analyzer and annular flume for erosion studies
- Continental Margins Tank and Cavitation Tunnel Twin weighing tanks for calibration of flow metering sensors
- Water supply system with 50,000 gal. capacity sump and variable speed pumps
Newmark Structural Engineering Laboratory
The Newmark Structural Engineering Lab (NSEL) has a long history of excellence in material and large-scale experimental structural research. Completed in 1967 and extended in 1971, the testing section of the lab is located in the Newmark Lab crane bay and has a three-story clear height. Researchers carry out a wide range of tests of building materials, components, structural assembles and models.
- Large Testing Floor supported by 16.4 ft. deep concrete box girder design, used for tests of full-scale bridge girders, dynamic experiments and more
- New cranes with 20 ton and 40 ton capacities, with a clear height of 29.5 ft
- Reaction Wall consisting of a 5 ft. thick and 28.5 ft. high L-shaped structure, post-tensioned to a 2 ft. thick Testing Floor
- Manually-controlled and Servo-controlled hydraulic equipment with a wide range of hydraulic actuator capacities
- Fatigue-rated testing frames
- Instrumentation to support any type of transducer
- Wide range of hardware (columns, I-beams, channels and more) that allow for full-scale tests of structures
- Houses three large-scale 6-degrees of freedom quasi-static and dynamic
- Loading Boundary Condition Boxes
Environmental Engineering and Science Laboratories
The Environmental Engineering and Science (EE&S) laboratories are located on the fourth floor of Newmark Lab and in the new CEE building across the street. The several EE&S labs host shared facilities with a wide range of state-of-the-science analytical equipment, including mass spectroscopy; optical, surface area and organic carbon analyzers; and inductively coupled plasma, ion, liquid and gas chromatography.
Together, the labs are fully equipped for a diverse range of research, including:
- Water disinfection
- Water and wastewater quality
- Water chemistry
- Aerosols and air quality
- Environmental microbiology and genomics
- Nano-enabled and interfacial processes
- Environmental synthetic and molecular biology
- Environmental toxicity
- Hazardous waste remediation
- Resource recovery
- Data science
- Green roof
Lab Director: Vishal Verma
Lab Manager: Shaoying “Shawn” Qi
Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Lab
The 60,000 square-foot Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL) is a unique and comprehensive transportation research, educational and testing laboratory located 15 miles from campus at CEE’s Illinois Center for Transportation in Rantoul, Ill. ATREL provides high-quality transportation education and research that advances technologies for airport, highway and rail systems.
- continuing education classrooms
- office space
- technical library
- computer facility
ATREL is also home to the Accelerated Transportation Loading System (ATLAS), which evaluates full-scale transportation systems by subjecting them to real-life traffic and environmental conditions. ATLAS is capable of simulating aircraft, truck or rail traffic distributions, testing all types of pavement systems and applying load levels exceeding highway and airfield limits.
Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge
A gift of friends of the department for which it is named, this instrumented bridge connecting the CEE Building with Newmark Lab/Yeh Center serves as a living laboratory, providing a wealth of data for use in classes and research.
Research and Innovation Laboratory
The Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) provides researchers with the tools to advance railway infrastructure track component and system design and performance. RAIL houses multiple frames that allow for the execution of experiments on railway infrastructure and mechanical components. The 3,500 square foot space is located in Champaign, Ill., on the grounds of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.
- Track Loading System for system-level experimentation on track panels supported by full-depth track substructure
- Pulsating Load Testing Machine for static and cyclic experimentation and testing on railway fastening systems
- Static Tie Tester, Static Load Testing Machine, and Large-
Scale Test Frame for static and cyclic experimentation and testing of crossties, fastening systems, joint bars and more
- Multiple MTS hydraulic actuators (35 to 110 kip)
- Five hydraulic cylinders (100 kip)
John T. Pfeffer Sanitation and Resource Recovery Lab
The John T. Pfeffer Sanitation and Resource Recovery (SR2) Laboratory will provide space to conduct experiments that will advance fundamental understanding of pathogen inactivation and contaminant transformation in concentrated human excreta, as well as develop and pilot anaerobic, phototrophic and physical/chemical treatment and resource recovery technologies using mixed and source-separated human waste streams.
- Floor mounted “no-mix” toilet (urine and solids separation) and waterless urinal in connected restrooms
- Urine recovery container and containment system (solids connect to building’s sanitary system)
- Diversion of urine for research on source-separated waste streams and nutrient recovery
Lab Director: R. D. Cusick
Ecohydraulics and Ecomorphodynamics Laboratory
The Ecohydraulics and Ecomorphodynamics Laboratory (EEL) is a 5,000 square foot facility in nearby Rantoul, Ill., that supports research on the interactions and feedbacks between hydrodynamic, ecological and geomorphic processes in natural and altered waters, in order to develop better approaches to monitor, manage and restore the functions of aquatic ecosystems.
- An 11 meter paddle-wheel driven racetrack ecoflume for studies on biota-flow-sediment interactions
- Chicago River flume, a distorted model of the Main, North and South branch of the Chicago River
- Other flumes include: arrested front flume with a rotating belt to control a moving bed for the study of gravity currents; annular flume; Odell-Kovasznay type racetrack flume; and hyporheic flume
- Wind tunnel for studies on wind-structure interactions
- U-tube shaped oscillatory tunnel
- Velocimetry systems and related equipment
Rock Mechanics Laboratory
The Rock Mechanics Lab supports research into the mechanical behavior of rocklike geomaterials using novel experimental techniques such as high pressure/high temperature compression testing, multi-phase fluid injection, acoustic emission, digital image correlation and others. Research topics include CO2 and nuclear waste storage, hydraulic fracturing and enhanced geothermal energy production.
- 1 MN closed-loop servo-hydraulic load frame for compression testing
- Triaxial cells for measurements of poromechanical response of rock and shale at elevated external stresses, pore pressures and temperatures
- 88 kN load frame and setup for testing fracture properties of rock
- Core flooding device for assessing multi-phase fluid transport in geomaterials
- Mercury intrusion porosimeter for measuring porosity and pore size distribution down to a nanometer scale
Wind Engineering Research Laboratory
The Wind Engineering Research Lab (WERL) is focused on improving wind and wind loading characterization, especially for damaging wind events including hurricanes, thunderstorms and tornadoes. WERL has developed a suite of mobile sensors to be deployed ahead of these events and developed methods to better assess wind and wind loading after the events have concluded. WERL research also includes wind-related topics such as structural response, bluff body aerodynamics and wind climatology.
- Stationary and mobile towers with propeller anemometers and relative humidity, pressure and temperature sensors
- m-SWERF³, a mobile instrumented bluff-body capable of measuring wind induced pressure in the four walls and on the roof
- Fully mobile barometric pressure sensors for direct measurement of atmospheric pressure, wind speed estimation and loading characterization
- Low-rise building to house data collection and serve as a foundation for fullscale experimentation (currently under renovation)
Machine Shop and Wood Shop
Comprehensive machine and wood shops, adjacent to the Newmark Lab central crane bay, are capable of fabricating nearly any item required by faculty who are conducting research.
In addition to the laboratories listed on this page, other CEE faculty members have research laboratories equipped for work in their area of interest. Undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to work in all of the labs at CEE as part of their coursework, the Research Experience for Undergraduate program, or other collaboration with their professors.
Take a tour of I-ACT, a planned state-of-the-art research-testing arena for the development, testing and commercialization of smart, autonomous and multimodal transportation.