Edward John

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Research Student


Full contact details

Edward John
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building (Broad Lane Building)
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

Edward completed his MEng in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 2018. Following this he joined SNC-Lavalin Atkins for two years where he worked in the Rail Consulting Practice on a range of projects including the production of FLEX bi-mode trains. In 2020 Edward started his PhD at the University of Sheffield with the Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe) Centre for Doctoral Training. Edward’s PhD project “Understanding how the deterioration of cast iron pipes evolves into leakage” has enabled him to pursue his interests in infrastructure, mechanics, and experimental methods.


MEng in Mechanical Engineering

Research interests

Research Project: Understanding how the deterioration of cast iron pipes evolves into leakage

Summary: Using destructive testing, this project aims to advance the water industry’s understanding of how leaks form in grey cast iron water pipes and improve our ability to predict leakage onset.

Detailed Description: In 2017 approximately 22% of all drinking water put into UK water distribution pipes was lost to leakage. High levels of leakage put pressure on our water supplies and reduce the efficiency of the water supply system. To ensure that the UK’s water supplies are resilient against a 0.5% annual probability drought, the water industry has committed to halving leakage by 2050, compared to 2017-18 levels. One aspect of reducing leakage is understanding of how leaks occur in the first place and modelling this process. Grey cast iron (GCI) water pipes are brittle and vulnerable to pitting corrosion. As a result, it is very likely that cracking of the pipe material is a key leak initiation mechanism for GCI pipes. Buried water pipes experience cyclic loading from variable water pressures, passing road vehicles, temperature fluctuations, and soil moisture response. These loads create multiaxial, time-variable stress profiles within the pipe walls. To understand how these stresses lead to the formation of leaking cracks, lab-based experiments are needed so the process can be controlled and observed in a way that is not possible in the field. This project will develop an experiment that can accelerate the fatigue cracking process so that large volumes of cycles-to-leakage data can be gathered. This data will be used to validate a fatigue criterion which, coupled with existing models for the other major leak initiation mechanisms, will enable the stress cycles to leakage for a given GCI water pipe to be calculated. This tool will mean that water pipes can be targeted for replacement shortly before they are predicted to begin leaking. This type of proactive maintenance should reduce the number of new leaks that form, helping the water industry to meet its commitment of halving leakage by 2050. The project is sponsored by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) and hosted by the University of Sheffield. Supervisors of this project are Luca Susmel, Joby Boxall, Richard Collins, and Elisabeth Bowman from the University of Sheffield, and Dennis Dellow from UKWIR.

Research group

Water Engineering 

Structural Engineering & Materials