Geotechnical Centrifuge Experimental Research Facility

The Geotechnical Centrifuge Experimental Research Facility (GeoCERF) currently operates the only geotechnical beam centrifuge in western Canada. Located at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and operated by members of the Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group, the team in GeoCERF carries out research as well as commercial testing services for Canadian and international academics and industrial clients.

Our Geotechnical Centrifuge offers researchers a time machine, allowing them the ability to peer into the future by condensing vertical stress data collection from decades to days. Research carried out in GeoCERF advances knowledge in areas as diverse as the energy sector (mining tailings and Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS)), structural engineering (helical pile testing), and other tests requiring long-term data from vertical stress. The team in GeoCERF was named a finalist in the 2019 ASTech Awards in recognition of their ability to deliver decades of data in a matter of days.

Tailings Consolidation

GeoCERF has designed and commissioned multiple iterations of consolidation cells suitable for variable prototype size and boundary conditions, allowing them to complete more than 80 studies on consolidation of mine tailings for both Alberta and international mine tailings operators. State-of-the-art instruments and sensors employed in the modelling package include T-bars, miniature pressure transducers, and load cells with the capacity to perform both single-lift and multi-lift deposition scenarios under different drainage conditions. 

Innovative Prototyping and Engineering

In addition to our own research, GeoCERF has collaborated with academic partners within the University of Alberta as well as across Canada on a wide range of geotechnical and geomechanical experiments including miniaturized centrifuge models of SAGD cap rock, helical piles in foundations, 3D printed fractures, and prototyping of oil production, wormhole foundation, and sand displacement in CHOPS (Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand). The GeoCERF team also had the pleasure of testing the University of Alberta’s 10cm x 10cm x 30cm QB50 mission Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat satellite prior to its launch on May 26, 2017.