Funding boost for high-tech building research

Innovation Minister Kate Jones has announced the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships, including $300,000 for USQ Civil Engineering Professor Allan Manalo and $180,000 to nanotechnology researcher Dr Leila Javazmi.

The funding program supports Queensland’s best and brightest research minds to conduct pioneering research side-by-side with industry.

Professor Manalo’s fellowship will support his work to extend the life of marine infrastructure along the coast, developing stronger, more durable jetties and boat ramps.

He is developing a non-corrosive alternative to steel-reinforced concrete, building on earlier research into using glass fiber composite to reinforce concrete beams and planks.

“Structures reinforced with composite polymer bars can outperform galvanised steel in marine environments, and it takes less labour to manufacture,” Dr Manalo said.

Dr Manalo has teamed up with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads which will use the new technology in boating infrastructure projects; Inconmat Australia which will manufacture and supply the new material; and Gympie-based installer of boating infrastructure SkillCentred Queensland.

Researcher Dr Leila Javazmi’s work on nanofibers (strings with a diameter of 100 nanometres or less) has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing in Queensland.

Given their tiny size and desirable properties, nanofibers are used in tissue engineering, drug delivery systems, and products such as protective clothing and energy storage.

Dr Javazmi will use graphene nanofibers to create low-cost and high-efficient sensors for the multi-billion dollar composites manufacturing industry.

“The smart sensors will monitor the structural health, including detecting defects, of materials during the production process as well as their service life,” Dr Javazmi said.

“The sensors will initially be applied in civil infrastructure projects using advanced composite materials, such as roads and bridges.”

Dr Javazmi will work with industry organisations Wagners CFT and Graphene Manufacturing Group to further her ground-breaking work.

Did you know?

• Advanced composites are specially-engineered materials, made from components chosen for their properties, such as strength and endurance

• Nanofibers can be created using a process called electrospinning which uses an electric charge to draw out minuscule threads from a material

• USQ not only has the only pultrusion line in any Australian university, but also the only advanced electrospinning apparatus, designed by Dr Leila Javazmi

people with certificates smiling

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