Skip to content

You are here: Home / Laboratories / Geotechnical / Equipment


In addition to the conventional testing equipment used in geotechnical engineering, the laboratory has the following advanced testing equipment and infrastructure:

  • Small laboratory material for granulometry, determination of Atterberg limits, specific weight of particles, determination of organic material, etc.
  • Mercury porosimeter (Autopore IV)
  • Gas adsorption porosimeter (ASAP 2000)
  • Transistor psychrometer (SMI) twelve channels
  • Thermocouple psychrometer (Wescor) (eight probes)
  • 2 conventional pressure membrane equipment (Soil Moisture)
  • 2 pressure membrane kits
  • Hollow cylinder testing equipment
  • Servohydraulic universal testing equipment
  • Wille Geotechnik gas injectors (20 MPa)
  • GDS/Wille Geotechnik Water Pressure/Volume Controllers (3 to 64 MPa)
  • Mechanical sieve machine for coarse aggregates
  • Rock drill & band saws
  • Air compressors (1 and 3 MPa)
  • 12 conventional cells
  • 2 levers with 1:20 ratio (maximum load 4 T)
  • 2 conventional Rowe cells (76mm and 256mm diameters)
  • 3 Rowe type cells for expansive materials
  • 4 cells for high voltage salt aggregate assays
  • 6 oedometric cells with suction control by axis translation
  • 1 oedometric device with suction control using the osmotic technique (joint design with Imperial College-UPC)
  • 1 oedometric cell with suction control by relative humidity (CEDEX)
  • 2 oedometric cells with suction and temperature control (up to 80oC)
  • 1 equipment for determining the potential of swelling type Lambe
  • 6 isochor cells for determination of retention curve and swelling pressure
  • 2 oedometers for granular material with controlled relative humidity, 600 mm diameter
  • 2 conventional direct cutting systems
  • 2 ring cutter (WF)
  • 1 large direct cutter (samples up to 300 x 300 mm) (WF)
  • 1 portable cutter for joints in rock testimonials (Hoek)
  • 1 suction-controlled cutter with axis translation (CEDEX)
  • Servo Controlled Press Instron 2000 kN
  • 5T conventional triaxial testing press (WF)
  • 50T hydraulic press
  • 120T hydraulic Press
  • 2 loading frames with pneumatic pistons, loads up to 2T
  • 5 conventional triaxial cells of various diameters, for up to 100mm samples (WF)
  • 1 cyclic triaxial equipment with pneumatic loading system (ISMES)
  • 1 triaxial testing system (stress path type) (WF)
  • 1 automated triaxial device, for dynamic loads up to 2Hz in frequency (GDS)
  • 2 suction-controlled triaxial units with axis translation
  • 1 suction and temperature-controlled triaxial cell, up to 80oC
  • 1 relative humidity-controlled triaxial equipment to test gravel-size materials (double wall for 300mm diameter samples and with local instrumentation for 200mm samples)
  • Equipment related to the study of barriers
  • 1 heat flow equipment in confined samples of salt aggregates
  • 1 heat flux equipment in unconfined expansive clay samples with constant humidity
  • 1 equipment for measuring the thermal expansion of soil and rock samples
  • 6 columns for infiltration tests in confined conditions
  • 1 column for simultaneous water and heat flow tests under confined conditions and with measurement of swelling pressures
  • 1 multiaxial unit with actuators and temperature control for cubic samples (200 kN)
  • 1 Stockoe resonant column (ISMES)
  • 1 direct tensile strength tester of soils
  • 1 controlled relative humidity unit to study the formation of cracks
  • 1 controlled temperature and relative humidity column to study the infiltration and evaporation process
  • 1 tilt platform to obtain the friction angle between rock blocks
  • 1 piece of equipment to conduct durability tests against wetting-drying cycles in soft rocks
  • Freezing chamber (-20o)

In addition to the more conventional sensors, for the automatic realization of measurements during the tests, a large number of measurement equipment of various types is available, many of them used in measurement techniques developed in the laboratory itself:

  • LVDT-type displacement transducers with different measurement ranges. Other local measurement systems available in the laboratory are Hall effect transducers and strain gauges glued to small metal strips.
  • To measure the volume change in unsaturated soils, various techniques have been developed, such as the use of laser distance meters, direct measurement of diameter changes using small LVDTs, and global measurements using double cameras and floats.
  • For the measurement of water flows, a proprietary double buret system with differential pressure transducers has been developed.
  • Capacitive relative humidity sensors, psychrometers, tensiometers, TDR probes, thermal conductivity meters and dielectric sensors are used to measure suction and water content.
  • Instrumented evaporation/humidification chamber for soil drying tests.
  • Physical model for the study of slopes using PIV and digital camera.

All these transducers are connected to data acquisition systems controlled by personal computers. Twelve systems of this type are available with various features.

It should be noted that, althought not located in the Geotechnical Laboratory, the UPC has a very useful electron microscopy service to study soils without the need to previously dry the sample. Furthermore, CSIC's Jaume Almera Institute has the possibility of carrying out mineralogical and chemical analyses.