Zeno Karl Schindler Award 2019 - Alessandro F. Rotta Loria
Multiphysical and multiscale interactions between the built environment and the shallow subsurface
"For his groundbreaking investigations and exceptional contributions to the understanding of the behaviour of energy geostructures. His discoveries allowed the establishment of fundamental concepts for the design of geo-energy infrastructures."
This doctoral thesis focuses on the thermo-mechanical behaviour and performance of so-called energy piles: an innovative, multifunctional technology that couples the role of the structural support with that of the renewable energy supply for any type of built environment. The multifunctional role of energy piles involves mechanical and thermal loads applied to such geostructures. These loads cause variations in temperature, displacement, pore water pressure and stress in the subsurface that significantly influence the operation of the considered structures. Prior to this work, the knowledge about the thermo-mechanical behaviour and performance of energy pile groups subjected to mechanical and thermal loads was limited. This doctoral research addressed the previous challenge via the development of experimental in situ tests and numerical analyses of energy pile groups, the proposition of the first analytical models for predicting the vertical deformation of such geostructures, and the formulation of a performance-based design framework for single and groups of energy piles. The results of this thesis highlight that the thermo-mechanical behaviour and performance of energy pile groups differ from those of single energy piles, and any analysis and design of these geostructures should address energy piles as both isolated elements and in a group.