Macquarie University: $1 Million Funding Boost For Macquaire University Research Groups’ Groundbreaking Work Improving Infrastructure Productivity

Macquarie University research groups have been awarded $1,044,000 under a government and industry–supported program designed to transform the cement and concrete sector. The funding will support three near market research projects by SmartCrete Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), jointly led by Macquarie University and partners across the industry.

The funding from SmartCrete CRC will allow the University and its industry partners to progress a number of projects centred around innovating the cement and concrete sector by helping reduce the cost, extending the life, and reducing the carbon footprint of essential concrete infrastructure.

Dr Shima Taheri, Associate Professor Sorn Vimonsatit and Professor Simon Clark, from Macquarie University’s School of Engineering will lead a project which focuses on the development of a novel method of producing polymer concrete using unwanted waste from latex paint. In collaboration with Paintback Limited, Western Sydney University and Swinburne University of Technology, the project received $400,000 to accelerate research into and supply of this unique, circular polymer concrete solution.

“This regenerative project will contribute significantly to the circular economy, through the repurposing of waste product into a value supply stream for the building industry,” said Professor Simon Clark.

Professor Clark continued, “By utilising unwanted latex paint in this manner and converting it into an effective concrete solution will see a reduction in raw material costs, boasting both a strong economic and environmental benefit for the wider industry.

A collaboration with industry partners Sydney Water and Melbourne Water, led by Dr Martin Ams and Professor Michael Withford of Macquarie University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy was awarded $180,000 towards the development of a cost-effective photonic sensor interrogator. The world-class interrogator will enable the use of photonic sensing to monitor the health of concrete sewer pipes. In the long term, this game-changing equipment will reduce maintenance costs, lessen disruption for local communities and prolong the life of our essential concrete infrastructure.

Dr Mohsen Asadnia and Associate Professor Rouzbeh Abbassi from Macquarie University’s School of Engineering lead a project in partnership with Transport for New South Wales. The project has received $464,000 to create embedded systemsfor continuous and robust crack monitoring in concrete pavements. The sensing system will detect strain, temperature, pH, and moisture to track the propagation of cracks, leading to reduced costs for the repair of this damage as well as lessen disruption to transport and commuter activity. More widely, the project contributes positively to the reduction of related greenhouse gas emissions and outputs.

“The School of Engineering at Macquarie University has developed a strong reputation on industry-based physical and chemical sensors development. We are looking forward to working closely with Transport for NSW in this exciting project, which could save millions of dollars for NSW in the cost of road maintenance,” said Dr Asadnia.

“SmartCrete CRC is excited to partner with Macquarie University on these key projects and are keen to see the benefits it will provide to its application in infrastructure. Our research program has identified three core themes: Engineered Solutions, Asset Management and Sustainability. Each of the three projects closely align with these themes which address the issues and challenges faced by the concrete sector,” said SmartCrete CRC CEO Warren South.

“These projects mark the first of many in the pipeline that the SmartCrete Cooperative Research Centre is expected to support over the next seven years. It is immensely pleasing to see such ambitious, innovative and sustainability-focused projects supported,” said Professor Clark.

Since its establishment in June 2020, SmartCrete CRC has worked to promote scientific and engineering research for Australia’s concrete industry including developments within the concrete supply chain and associated industries. All SmartCrete CRC projects are driven by the needs of industry partners and the end-users with whom they engage.

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