Department of
Civil Engineering

Image of Alvaro Garcia Hernandez

Alvaro Garcia Hernandez

Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering



I work as a researcher since 2004, when I finished my Master in Civil Engineering at the University of Castilla-la Mancha and started my PhD at the University of Cantabria, both in Spain. During my doctorate I proposed the first effective method for knowing the times of polishing industrial concrete pavements. In 2008 I moved to the TU Delft, in the Netherlands, as a postdoc. There I created the first technologies to improve the self-healing properties of asphalt concrete. In 2011, I moved to Empa, in Switzerland where after one year, I became responsible for thematic area "Innovative and Multifunctional Pavements" (EMPave) at the Road Engineering and Sealing components laboratory. The objective of this thematic area was to solve common road problems through unconventional modifications of the pavement. I work at the University of Nottingham since November 2013. My research interests include the development of new materials for more sustainable pavements. I am especially entusiasthic about the creation of new functionalities, such as self-healing, self-monitoring or energy harvesting.

I am a member of the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre research group.

Transportation Infrastructure Engineering MSc: Sustainable Highways / Sustainable Railways courses.

Research Summary

My research interests are:

1. Development of new materials and structures, which includes increasing the durability of the pavement materials; developing more efficient materials and structures that consume less energy, and integrating new-functionalities in the materials and the structures, such as self-controlling, self-healing, energy harvesting, or the ability to re-adapt themselves to the environmental conditions, imitating the efficiency of biological systems.

2. Automation of construction and maintenance techniques, which implies the use of information technologies to reach higher lifecycle efficiency. This area merges with the previous one where new-functionalities are integrated into the systems. It also implies using robotics and optimizing the construction, inspection and maintenance processes, so as ways for building pavements under any climatic condition. This research area pretends to build pavements with a minimum investment of energy.

3. Minimization of the environmental impact of the pavement, which studies the integration of constructions into the territory. Its ultimate objective is that pavements coexist in symbiosis with the environment. Points to study are reducing the noise, visual, thermal or chemical impacts and turning their negative effects positive. Moreover, the use of local materials for construction and the recycling of materials and structures will play an important role in this area.

If you are interested in any of these topics, just send me an email!.

Selected Publications

Past Research

Industrial concrete pavements

Theoretically, the time of troweling a concrete pavement coincides with the setting time. With this in mind, I have developed a theoretical model of the penetration resistance evolution of concrete during the curing time and a methodology to know the time of troweling the pavement. Additionally, I have made a classification of the finishing types used in industrial concrete pavements and also some work about their behaviour under abrasion wear.

Asphalt self-healing

Asphalt concrete is a self-healing material. The problem is that it heals very slowly. If we could control the healing rates of bituminous materials, we would definitively revolutionize the road construction business. To reach this objective I have made some fundamental research on asphalt self-healing and I have developed the first engineered method to accelerate asphalt self-healing: In the first place, I used encapsulated rejuvenators. The idea was that when a crack appeared, the capsules should break, filling the crack with self-healing agents. In the second place, electrically conductive particles were mixed in the asphalt concrete. The objective was to heat them via induction energy and in this way, melt the bitumen and heal the cracks.

Look at me in 2010!:

Cold mixed asphalt

An ideal material, with the advantages of both asphalt and concrete, could be obtained by combining asphalt emulsions, a cementitious material, water and aggregates (cold mix asphalt concrete). In the past I have done research about the influence of different amounts and types of cement and various environmental factors on the mechanical performance of cold mixed asphalt.

Energy harvesting pavements

If pavements could harvest energy from the environment, they could potentially gain the ability to feel damage and to communicate with the users. In the future we could also imagine a pavement that can harvest energy, accumulate it and use to repair its own damage. To start my work on this direction, I have developed a system that uses the differences of temperature between the pavement and the air to create a flow of air through air conduits embedded in the road structure. This air flow can be used to regulate the temperature of the pavement in the summer or to move a wind turbine and produce electricity.

Future Research

I am preparing research proposals. These are focused on developing new methods for self-healing asphalt, on the fundamentals of asphalt self-healing, on energy harvesting pavements and on cold mixed asphalt. I am also starting to put together ideas for researching on concrete pavements.

Also, I am chairman of the EHA RILEM committee "Engineered healing of asphalt concrete"

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates from Home, EU and international countries who are interested in the following research areas: Asphalt roads, roads maintenance, and self-healing materials

Department of Civil Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14081