Prof. Peter Bourne-Weeb

Prof. Bourne-Weeb came to EPFL on the 28th of March 2014 and gave a presentation entitled “Understanding energy foundations”.


In the paper “A framework for understanding energy pile behaviour”, the authors outlined a simple schematic description of the expected response of a pile to heating and cooling which was used to understand the results of field tests on thermally-activated piles that had been carried out in London and in Lausanne.
This presentation provides some context for the energy foundation concept in terms of how it fits into the technology of shallow geothermal heating and cooling, discusses heating & cooling, and thermo-mechanical performance of energy piles that has been observed, and then outlines the framework proposed in the paper. Finally, the preliminary results of more recent studies undertaken to explore the limits applicability of the framework, in particular its inability to capture the impact of other thermal interactions that also affect the changes in pile axial load and mobilized shaft resistance generated by thermal loading of the pile – i.e. the soil coefficient of thermal expansion and the temperature field around the pile.

About the speaker:
Peter Bourne-Webb is assistant professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, Portugal. Having spent his formative years in New Zealand, graduating from the University of Canterbury and working initially for Works Consultancy Services (the former Ministry of Works), Peter moved to the UK where he completed his MSc and PhD at Imperial College completing theses under the supervision of Professor David Potts. Whilst living in the UK, he also worked for the Geotechnical Consulting Group, Card Geotechnics and latterly, Cementation Skanska where he began his involvement with the energy foundation concept. In Portugal he is continuing to research energy foundations. He recently contributed two chapters to the book “Energy Geostructures” edited by Prof. Laloui and Alice Di Donna – one on the observed response of energy geostructures and one on the planning/design, delivery & commissioning of energy geostructures.