Sustainable Design Development of a Concrete Lock Chamber

Reaching a Sustainable and Durable Design of a Ship Lock Concrete Hard Structure, Enabling Navigation Through the Haringvliet Storm Surge Barrier as Part of the Delta21 Project

More Info


Concrete is the second most used material in the world after water and recent trends show no slowing down of the concrete use around the world. Concrete is also a huge contributor to CO2 emissions as it makes up 8% of emissions. This study investigates the optimization of concrete structures to reduce environmental impact while maintaining structural integrity and cost-effectiveness, e.g. how to make a concrete structure more sustainable. A previous report where quay wall designs of different materials were compared in regard to the CO2-emissions and life cycle assessment found that a concrete quay wall had 43% more emissions than a steel quay wall. The goal of this study is to reduce the overall CO2 equivalent emissions related to a concrete structure by 50% and make the design more sustainable.
A concrete ship lock chamber as part of the Delta21 project is used as a case study. To measure the positive effect of sustainability two chambers are designed; a base case chamber designed based on what is most commonly done in practice in the structural engineering field, and an alternative chamber design with the aim of making the concrete lock chamber more sustainable. A partial life cycle assessment (LCA) is performed on both of the two design alternatives. The optimization of the alternative chamber design focused on minimizing global warming potential (GWP) by adjusting the reinforcement-to-concrete ratio and incorporating structural elements such as plated steel anchors. The two alternatives are analysed comparably as they are designed under the exact same conditions, in the same environment and with the same functionality aspects.
The base case structure is a U-basin concrete chamber with tapered walls. The alternative optimised structure enhances the structural behaviour of the chamber wall by adding anchors. This reduces the moments by 88% and the shear force by 56% compared to the base case design. By changing the structural wall type in the chamber by adding anchors, the concrete volume could be reduced by 47% between the base case design and the optimised design. This also allows for a reduction of concrete strength class, reinforcement volume, underwater concrete floor thickness and the number of tension piles for the construction pit. The LCA reveals a 55% reduction in the GWP for the alternative concrete chamber design, compared to the base case design. An optimum reinforcement ratio for the alternative concrete chamber anchored wall of 2.3% is identified, resulting in a balance between structural performance and environmental sustainability without increasing material costs. This ratio doesn’t incorporate labour cost which might affect this optimum ratio by lowering it. This demonstrates the potential for achieving environmentally responsible solutions without compromising the structural integrity of a structure or incurring additional costs.
The study highlights the potential for integrating sustainability objectives into concrete structure design, with recommendations for further research including exploring alternative materials and advanced optimization techniques.