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The University of Southampton
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Professor William Powrie FREng MA MSc PhD CEng FICE

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering

Professor William Powrie's photo

I am Professor of Geotechnical Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

 My main technical areas of interest are

underpinned by an understanding of fundamental soil behaviour. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009 in recognition of my work in these areas. I am also Geotechnical Consultant to the internationally-leading groundwater control company, WJ Groundwater Ltd.

I am committed to sustainability in daily life, especially in the key areas of transport and resource management. I cycle to work most days, and, wherever possible, re-use and recycle goods and materials.

I enjoy cycling, walking, reading and music: I play the pipe organ, piano, recorder and alto saxophone.

Research interests

Transport infrastructure

My research on transport infrastructure encompasses 

  • in-ground construction to reduce environmental impacts in urban and other sensitive areas (retaining walls and groundwater control)
  • effects of vegetation and climate on embankments and cutting slopes
  • railways.

I have worked on major projects including the

  • A55 Conwy Crossing
  • Jubilee Line extension stations at Canary Wharf and Canada Water
  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

I am a co-author of two Construction Industry Research and Information (CIRIA) reports incorporating the results of my research in groundwater control (C515) and embedded retaining walls (C580). I currently lead TRACK21, a major EPSRC-funded research consortium with the aim of revolutionising techniques for railway track design, construction and maintenance.

Waste and resource management

My research in waste and resource management focuses on landfill science and engineering, and has led to the development of methods to improve resource recovery and reduce the pollution potential from landfills. I have worked on the design and engineering risk assessment of the low level radioactive waste repositories at Drigg, and from 2004-2010 I chaired the Technologies Advisory Committee for Defra’s £30M programme of research and demonstrator projects for new technologies for the treatment of biodegradable waste.

Research group

Infrastructure Group

Affiliate research group

Waste Management

Research project(s)

Infrastructure monitoring using passive remote imagery

SASICE - Safety and Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Foundations as an energy source

How to access the heat beneath our feet by using building foundations to harvest thermal energy.

Processes, mechanics and management of wastes

Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century

Treatment, Extraction and Reuse of Chemically Complex Alkaline Leachates from Landfills

The disposal of Cement Kiln Dust (CKD) to landfill produces leachates with extreme properties of high pH and ionic species concentrations. The research has investigated a number of issues including: the properties of CKD, methods for the extraction of CKD rich leachate from landfills, the interaction of CKD with municipal solid waste and the anaerobic treatment of leachates with a high sulphate concentration.

Industrial Collaboration for Promoting Sustainability

This Knowledge Transfer (KT) project focused on the following key areas: Bioenergy (especially methane production through anaerobic digestion, but also with potential for involvement in other areas e.g. other biofuels, production of pellets for local heat and co-firing in power stations, and pyrolysis of residual municipal wastes for syngas production) Energy footprinting for process optimisation, both in industry and in the waste management sector Energy efficiency studies within companies Urban Sustainability studies (including participation in the Thameside Gateway Institute for Sustainability)

Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC)

Coastal Landfill and Shoreline Management: Implications for Coastal Adaptation Infrastructure

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Book Chapters



Code Title Role
CENV3020 Geotechnical Engineering Lecturer
CENV6122 Advanced Foundation Engineering Lecturer
Professor William Powrie
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number: 178/3009

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