Ana Blanco Alvarez

Dr Ana Blanco

Pronouns: She/her

BSc MSc PhD CEng MICE FHEA

  • Senior Lecturer in Infrastructure Engineering
  • Structures and Materials
  • Research and expertise

    I am a civil engineer with 15+ years of research experience in advanced materials and civil infrastructure. My research interests lie in novel methods and materials for the repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure and multifunctional and high-performance cementitious composites.

    I am the Principal Investigator of the EPSRC New Investigator Award ‘Regenerative 3D printed cementitious skins for building components (Re3DSkin, EP/W028867/1)’, which is investigating novel strategies to improve the service life of assets using thin layers of self-healing engineered cementitious composites tailored to the degree and likelihood of cracking.

    I am a Co-Investigator in two research grants funded by industrial partners to develop complex-shaped lightweight sandwich panels manufactured using sprayed ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC), and define novel strategies for topology optimisation of structural elements.

    I welcome enquiries from postgraduates who wish to study for a PhD in my research areas.

    Current research activity

    • Re3DSkin: Regenerative 3D printed cementitious skins for building components (EPRSC New Investigator Award EP/W028867/1)
    • Development and characterisation of ultra-lightweight sandwich panels for structural applications (funded by Specwall Alliance).
    • Mechanical behaviour and optimisation of laser-cut rebar embedded in a cementitious matrix. (funded by the Manufacturing Technology Centre).

    Recent publications

    Teaching

    I contribute to learning and teaching activities across the Schools programmes including:

    Undergraduate

    • Structural engineering & engineering materials modules on the civil engineering and architectural engineering programmes;
    • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests

    Postgraduate

    • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests

    Enterprise

    Current projects 

    • ŸPatch Repair using Perfect Fit Parts. 2022-2023 Client: Network Rail (UK)

    Recently completed projects

    • ŸAdvanced Patch Repair of Masonry Tunnels. 2020-2021 Client: Network Rail (UK)

    Consultancies

    • ŸService life of tunnels subjected to high-temperature gradients. 2020-2021 Client: Acciona (Norway) 
    • ŸDevelopment of ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) in the UK with locally sourced materials. 2019 Client: Thorp Precast (UK) 

    Profile

    I joined Loughborough University through the Excellence 100 programme in 2018 as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Infrastructure Engineering, and I was promoted to Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in 2022. I am a member of the EDI Committee and Part D MEng Year Tutor.

    I received my BSc and MSc in Civil Engineering from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Spain. I then conducted research in concrete technology at UPC and Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) and was awarded a PhD in 2013 for an investigation on the characterisation and modelling of fibre-reinforced cementitious composites. This was followed by three years as a postdoctoral researcher at UPC, involving research and enterprise projects in hydraulic infrastructure maintenance and the development of high-performance cementitious composites for underground infrastructure. In 2015, I co-founded a spin-out company that develops enhanced cementitious composites and advanced technical solutions. I joined the spin-out company as a project leader in 2017 while combining my part-time research at UPC.

    Professional Affiliations

    • Chartered Engineers and Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (CEng MICE)
    • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
    • Member of the Spanish Institution of Civil Engineers (Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos)
    • Member of WES (Women’s Engineering Association)

    External activities

    • Member of the Technical Committee of BSI B/517/11 Fibres for concrete 
    • Reviewer of the British Council Newton Fund (2018-present)
    • Member of the Task Group for Expansive Reactions in Concrete Dams (SPANCOLD)
    • Member of the Task Group TG1.6 for Ultra-High-Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete of ACHE (2016-2018)

    Key collaborators

    My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including: 

    • Universities: Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Spain), Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Politecnico de Milano (Italy), Universidad de la Republica (Uruguay)
    • Industrial partners: Network Rail, Mott McDonald, Thorp Precast, Specwall