Civil Engineering Research


Creche aims to be an internationally recognised centre of excellence for applied research in the fields of Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering, and to develop, disseminate and apply state-of-the-art knowledge for solving environmental problems. Creche is made up of the following research units:

Environmental Engineering group
Led by Prof Cristina Trois and includes Mrs Elena Friedrich (Lecturer – PhD student), Dr Ntlibi Matete (Lecturer) and several graduate students. In 2007 CRECHE-Enviro launched the ZETA research portfolio that focuses on Zero waste, energy recovery, treatment of landfill emissions and awareness through education. This research portfolio is supported by local government, the World Bank and NRF. Current research in Environmental Engineering includes the following areas:
  • Waste management
  • Landfill emissions control, management and treatment Leachate/biogas characterization and treatment Waste-to-Energy and Carbon emissions reduction ZERO WASTE
  • Waste water treatment and land remediation
  • Metals removal using Permeable Reactive Barriers Constructed wetlands
  • Denitrification using organic substrates as a carbon source

Estuary and Coastal research group
Led by Prof Derek Stretch and includes several graduate students. Current research includes the following areas:

  • Computational fluid dynamicsEstuary hydrodynamics (e.g. St. Lucia Estuary)
  • Coastal water quality monitoring and pollution dispersion modeling
  • Coastal Engineering: wind, waves and cross-current modeling, sediment transport
  • The multi-disciplinary research on estuaries is supported by WRC, WWF, NRF and is conducted in collaboration with an estuarine research group in the School of Biological & Conservation Sciences at UKZN.

Satellite Applications and Hydrology Group
Led by Prof Geoff Pegram (Emeritus) and includes Dr Scott Sinclair (Post-doc), and several graduate students. Ms Blight collaborates with a research group in the Agricultural Engineering and Environmental Hydrology at UKZN. CRECHE-SAHG focuses on research relating to the application of remote sensing to Hydrology. The group has worked (often in collaboration with the SA Weather Service) on stochastic modeling of radar rainfall fields, stochastic now-casting of rainfall fields measured by radar and satellite, combining satellite, radar and gauge data to yield the 'best' daily rainfall fields over southern Africa, catchment modeling for flood forecasting, and exploring the feasibility of remote sensing of soil moisture in the region.

Current research within CRECHE-SAHG covers the following topics:
  • Operational Hydrology
  • Environmental Hydrology (rainfall/runoff and pollution transport modeling) Reliability modeling of large water resources systems
  • Multi-site time series modeling
  • Hydrological data repair and infilling
  • Flood studies
  • Rainfall/runoff modeling and forecasting
  • Flood routing
  • Linear system modeling
  • Historical flood analysis
  • Space-time modeling and forecasting of rain fields.

Infrastructure Research Group

Funded by the eThekwini Chair (Prof Stretch) is currently doing research on the rehabilitation of pipe networks in collaboration with the Metro and Umgeni Water (Prof Stretch and Dr Kumarasamy), and on the carbon impacts of an urban bus rapid transport systems (Ms Elena Friedrich).

Current research topics in structures include reliability of structures, in particular reinforced concrete, led by Mrs Christina McLeod. Links have also been established with Stellenbosch University. The research is supported by WRC and the eThekweni Chair and is contributing to the development of the proposed new SANS 10100-3 (The design of reinforced concrete water retaining structures). 

Structural Engineering and Computational Mechanics Group (SECM)

Organised by Dr Georgios A Drosopoulos in 2016, SECM focuses on the development of numerical methods, applied to several types of structures and materials. This research group belongs to the discipline of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. In the group are actively involved Dr McLeod, who is the Programme co-ordinator, Dr Olalusi and Dr Kiliswa. The group is supported by internationally recognized Academics from Europe.

Among the particular research interests of the group, are problems related to non-smooth contact mechanics, composite materials and nanomaterials, including graphene and carbon-nanotube reinforced nanocomposites. Traditional structural systems such as masonry, reinforced concrete and steel (normal-fire conditions) are also investigated. 

Research activities include among others, multi-scale formulations and homogenization, to capture localization of damage for heterogeneous structures. In addition, several studies are considered for the investigation of the structural response of nanocomposite materials, using finite element analysis, optimization concepts and laminate theories. Cutting edge materials, such as auxetic materials (with negative Poisson’s ratio) and materials depicting band gaps are also studied using numerical methods.

Research also focuses on the field of reliability of structures, considering deterministic and probabilistic approaches for the study of reinforced concrete structures. Emphasis is given on water retaining structures and problems involving cracking on concrete. 

Another field of study is related to durability of concrete using experimental investigation. Traditional reinforced concrete samples as well as modern, sustainable materials as mixtures of recycled and traditional materials, are investigated. 

Among the outputs of the activities of the group, are publications in international journals and book chapters, participation and publication in conferences’ proceedings, participation in research projects, international cooperation with recognized teams, as well as collaboration with post-graduate students.

Sustainable Transportation Research Group (STRg)

Led by Prof Mohamed MH Mostafa, STRg focuses on development of sustainable solutions to transportation elements. This research group belongs to the discipline of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. The group involves Prof J Ben-Edigbe and Mr S Shange. 

Research activities include, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Sustainable Roads: Non-conventional materials for pavements, Pavements modelling, Pavement Management systems, Life cycle assessment of pavement
  • Smart transportation: IT for roads in developing countries, Smart roads
  • Transport Planning
  • Traffic Management
  • Road Safety
  • Integrated Transport Systems
  • Public Transport Systems


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