Showcasing technical excellence at WTC2014 25 Mar 2014
TunnelTalk reporting
The Scientific Committee of the World Tunnel Congress for 2014 says the number of abstracts received for this year's event in Iguassu Falls, Brazil, has increasing awareness of technical possibilities for underground infrastructure among key planning personnel in the country is seen as a key driver for unlocking opportunities for expansion of the underground in a region that is only just beginning to develop the possibilities.
"Tunnels are already a popular feature in European countries, North America and some Asian countries, but not yet in Latin America," said Arsenio Negro, Chairman of WTC2014 Scientific Committee and President of the Brazilian Association of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. "WTC 2014 comes at an important moment of development in South American countries, where this culture is expected to grow. The Latin American technical community must show authorities the applications tunnels can have and how they can improve the population’s quality of life."
As such, WTC Brazil organisers are delighted with the response from the international technical community. A total 553 abstracts were received across a range of subject areas spanning the planning and design of underground structures, tunnel operations, safety, maintenance, rehabilitation, renovation and repair, as well as a large number of case studies from projects all over the world.
Leading the way is Europe, with 219 abstracts, followed by South America with 144. Asian authors submitted 132 abstracts, North America 35, Oceania 17 and Africa six. "The interest from all continents shows that the technical community from all over the world recognizes the importance of Brazil and the WTC," said Negro.
"The first thing that has impressed the WTC2014 Scientific Committee is that many abstracts refer to new technologies or new applications of known technologies, such as tunnel ventilation and an extensive application of the extruded shield," said Negro. "In this case, the technology existed, but we never saw its use with a TBM greater than 10m in diameter.
"Vertical shaft machine (VSM) shaft sinking technology, and sprayed waterproofing membrane technology are other abstract themes which have drawn the attention of the committee, "said Negro. "Many abstracts address issues related to project management and risks involved in the construction of a tunnel, and there are also some interesting case histories including lessons learned from failures.
"An issue which was not very common in Brazil, but one that is starting to concern Brazilian engineers, is lining integrity and durability evaluation in cases of fire, especially in long tunnels. There is also an abstract which draws attention to the first draft of a Brazilian standard for fire in tunnels."
At this year's event nearly 45 hours of technical lectures will be held, across three lecture rooms situated at the heart of the main exhibition area near the main hall.
Table 1. Technical sessions at WTC2014
Monday 12 May 2014
14.00-16.00 Planning/design of underground structures Site investigation and monitoring Conventional tunnelling innovations
16.30-18.30 Planning/design of underground structures Site investigation and monitoring Mechanised tunnelling innovations
Tuesday 13 May 2014
14.00-16.00 Planning/design of underground structures Tunnels for mining, hydro or storage Cut and cover/ immersed tunnelling innovations
16.30-18.30 Planning/design of underground structures Tunnels for mining, hydro or storage Mechanised tunnelling innovations
Wednesday 14 May 2014
08.30-10.30 Innovations in materials Conventional tunnelling innovations Learning from case histories
11.00-12.30 Design/construction of shafts Mechanised tunnelling innovations Learning from case histories
14.00-16.00 Tunnel operation, safety, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and renovation Risk management/ contract insurance Learning from case histories
16.30-17.30 Tunnel operation, safety, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and renovation Risk management/ contract insurance Rock tunnelling in South America
In addition to the regular lecture programme, this year's Muir Wood Lecture, to be held in the main hall immediately after the opening ceremony on Monday (May 12, 9.45am), is to be delivered by Georg Anagnostou of the Institute for Geotechnical Engineering in Zurich. His subject will be 'Critical aspects of subaqueous tunnelling.' Following this, three keynote lectures will be delivered; the first (11-11.30am) by André Assis, Professor of UnB, President of ABMS and ex-ITA President, entitled 'Tunnels for a Better Life - Trends, challenges and future technology'; the second (11.30-12 noon) by Johann Golser of Austria's Leoben University on the subject 'Challenges and Developments in Conventional Tunnelling'; and the final one (12-12.30pm) by Jurandir Fernandes, São Paulo State Secretary for Metropolitan Transportation.
Also arranged - subject to places being available - are five technical excursions, tickets for which can be purchased during online registration. These include visits to the world's largest hydroelectric plant at Itaipu (in terms of installed capacity), the conventionally mined road tunnels at Porto Maravilha in Rio de Janeiro, the Line 4 extension of the Rio de Janeiro metro, the enormous Rodoanel Mário Covas (São Paulo ring road) traffic tunnels that are being excavated using conventional methods under the nature reserve at Cantareira Sierra, plus a visit to the Line 5 extension of the São Paulo metro, where three TBMs are delivering 11km of tunnels under densely occupied urban zones.
Full list of accepted papers
Technical excursions

São Paulo urban forest tunnels edge closer - TunnelTalk, June 2012
Brazilian tunnels in world Top-100 projects - TunnelTalk, July 2012
Brazil prequalifiers for first immersed tube link - TunnelTalk, March 2014
Brazil postpones high speed rail auction - TunnelTalk, October 2013
Finding a formula for delivering high speed rail in Brazil - TunnelTalk, February 2014
Four metro EPBMs mark Robbins entry into Brazil - TunnelTalk, August 2013
Rio-bound EPBM to forge vital Olympic metro link - TunnelTalk, September 2012

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