Award-winning engineers extend infrastructure life

Monday, 18 June 2018

Innovative research on strengthening bridges with reinforced carbon fibre polymers has resulted in two engineers at Swinburne University receiving a prestigious award.

Professor Rhiad Al-Mahaidi and Dr Robin Kalfat developed fibre reinforced polymers (FRP) to extend the life of existing concrete infrastructure, which has earned them an Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) 2018 Research Impact Award.

The award is presented to those whose research, development and implementation efforts have made a significant improvement to operational quality and/or cost in the last 24 months and achieved considerable impact within the community and industry.

The research done by Al-Mahaidi and Kalfat included innovative anchorage systems that have achieved a greater degree of strengthening using less material and new methods for shear and torsion retrofitting of box girder bridges using FRP techniques.

The engineers also worked on the use of near-surface-mounted FRP combined with epoxies and cement-based adhesives to increase the strength of reinforced concrete members in flexure, shear and torsion.

Currently, many existing box girder bridges are being retrofitted with fibre composite materials to achieve greater flexural, shear and torsional strength and to increase their long-term sustainability.

“Extending the life of existing infrastructure is important to promote sustainability,” Al-Mahaidi said.

“The technology we developed has been used in the West Gate Bridge widening project and also on the M80 Western Ring Road upgrade, saving both time and money.”

This research has contributed to the development and publication of Australia’s first standard in the use of FRPs to strengthen concrete bridges, Swinburne University said. Al-Mahaidi and Kalfat have written Rehabilitation of Concrete Structures with Fibre-Reinforced Polymers which will be published in August 2018.

Image: Approach spans of the West Gate Bridge strengthened with fibre reinforced polymers.

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