Dr El Mountassir is a Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering and Director for Research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Her research focuses on developing novel technologies using biological and biochemical processes that can alter the hydraulic and mechanical behaviour of soils and rocks. Over the last ten year the team at Strathclyde have been developing microbially induced calcite precipitation as a technique for rock grouting, soil stabiliation, well sealing and concrete repair. More recently she has been leading investigations into the potential use of fungi and their hyphal networks in ground improvement applications.
I teach CL217 Soil mechanics and the Graduate Apprenticship module EO206 (Soils & Water 2), both to second year students.
My research is largely experimental and focuses on understanding the hydraulic and mechanical behaviour of soils and rocks. I am particularly interested in the potential use of biological processes in geotechnical engineering. I am currently developing novel grouting technologies including microbially induced calcite precipitation as a technique for sealing fine aperture fractures and silica sol as a low viscosity grout. I am also investigating the possible deployment of fungi within ground engineering applications.
- Invited seminar on 'Microbial processes in geotechnical engineering'
- Invited speaker
- Internal Examiner
- University Of Strathclyde (Organisational unit)
- Internal Examiner
- Erosion testing of Loch Thom core materials
- EXPLORATHON 2017
More professional activities
- Doctoral Training Partnership 2020-2021 University of Strathclyde | Brittain, Rory
- Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator) El Mountassir, Grainne (Co-investigator) Pytharouli, Stella (Co-investigator) Brittain, Rory (Research Co-investigator)
- 01-Jan-2021 - 01-Jan-2024
- Doctoral Training Partnership 2020-2021 University of Strathclyde | Eriksen, Jason
- El Mountassir, Grainne (Principal Investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) Eriksen, Jason (Research Co-investigator)
- 01-Jan-2021 - 01-Jan-2024
- Biotechnology for Treatment and Repair of Concrete Nuclear Infrastructure
- Turner, Ronnie (Researcher) Lunn, Rebecca (Principal Investigator) El Mountassir, Grainne (Principal Investigator)
- Postdoctoral research project as part of the 'Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear Decommissioning' (TRANSCEND) research consortium. This project aims to develop new biotechnological methods for the treatment of damaged cement and concrete structures in the UK civil nuclear industry.
- 03-Jan-2018 - 03-Jan-2021
- Underpinning the safety case for the use of colloidal silica based grout for waste containment
- Bots, Pieter (Co-investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Principal Investigator) El Mountassir, Grainne (Co-investigator) Pedrotti, Matteo (Co-investigator) Payne, Timothy (Co-investigator) Renshaw, Joanna (Co-investigator)
- X-ray Computed Tomography beamtime awarded by Diamond Light Source (STFC) at equivalent funding value of £95,940.
Abstract of funded proposal:
In the proposed experiments we aim to develop the scientific case to underpin the use of novel colloidal silica based grouts for radioactive waste containment. We aim to use the element specific capabilities of synchrotron based X-ray CT at beamline I13-2 to investigate the effects of the grout injection on the geochemistry of Sr, Cs and U. We will also utilize the time resolved capabilities to determine the influence of complex solid matrices on the (injection) behaviour of the silica grouts.
- 06-Jan-2017 - 10-Jan-2017
- Engineering FUngal Networks for Ground Improvement (Engineering FUNGI)
- El Mountassir, Grainne (Principal Investigator)
- "Conventional ground improvement techniques are highly invasive, frequently energy intensive and may require the introduction of environmentally damaging chemicals or carbon-intensive materials into the subsurface (e.g. chemical grouts, cement). The construction sector is responsible for 7% of carbon emissions in the UK. The UK target for 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 (against the 1990 baseline) presents both challenges and tremendous opportunities for the UK construction sector in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. The use of cementitious materials is pervasive in conventional ground improvement techniques, and with cement production contributing 5-7% of total global CO2 emissions there is a clear need for the development of new ground improvement technologies.
Over the last ten years the geotechnical engineering research community has witnessed the creation of a new subdiscipline: biogeotechnics a multi-disciplinary field at the interface of biology, geochemistry, soil mechanics, and geotechnical engineering. This represents a paradigm shift in geotechnical engineering- until now the accepted view has been to consider the ground as sterile and inert; now engineers are exploring the potential for use of biological and biochemical processes in ground engineering applications. This proposal represents the first steps towards the development of a novel low-carbon, minimal intervention, biologically based technology using engineered fungal networks.
Biological soil crusts in nature (consisting of fungi, bacteria and other organisms) are known to withstand erosion due to water or wind action. This project will investigate filamentous fungi, i.e. fungi which grow hyphae (tube-like structures). It is thought that fungal hyphae behave similar to plant roots - penetrating between soil particles and entangling them -helping to bind soil particles together, but on a smaller scale. Furthermore, fungi can secrete biochemical products, which may also contribute to binding of soil particles. This project will systematically quantify the mechanical benefit of fungal treatment in soils by investigating three different types of fungi and their ability to enhance the behaviour of different soil types. The project will determine the conditions required for rapid fungal network growth to occur and optimise the orientation of hyphal development to give maximum mechanical benefit. The dataset arising from the proposed experimental campaign will act as a springboard for the development of a new range of nature inspired ground improvement technologies.
The research proposed could transform how we consider the design of, development and deployment of ground improvement technologies. Rather than subject the ground to different energy intensive or invasive techniques, this research proposes to 'grow' the required level of treatment through the use of fungal networks. The process could be engineered using external stimuli to orient the hyphal networks as required for site-specific applications. This project will investigate the feasibility of the deployment of fungal networks as a ground improvement technology."
- 01-Jan-2017 - 03-Jan-2020
- Impacts of colloidal silica grout injection on the geochemistry of radioactive wastes
- Renshaw, Joanna (Principal Investigator) Bots, Pieter (Co-investigator) El Mountassir, Grainne (Co-investigator) Lunn, Rebecca (Co-investigator) Pedrotti, Matteo (Co-investigator)
- 01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2018
Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building
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