USQ research facility flexes its muscle with high-strength testing capability

Developed at USQ’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences (IAESS) and its Centre for Future Materials, the high-capacity testing rig has been specifically designed to simulate fatigue on railway sleepers.

The test facility is capable of testing structural members up to 500 kN cyclic load and frequency of up to 50 Hz for components as large as 5m (length) x 1.5m (width).

Professor Peter Schubel, Executive Director at IAESS said the facility was one of just a few like it in the world.

“The facility is designed to test structural components with a specific focus on railway sleepers manufactured from polymer composites, timber and concrete materials,” Professor Schubel said.

“This equipment advances USQ’s research capability under dynamic loading conditions and adds new dimensions for simulating full-scale structural behaviour in repeated loading scenarios, such as the load caused by a passing train.”

Professor Allan Manalo, team leader of the Civil Composites group at USQ, said the facility was already booked out for testing until the middle of next year and has been instrumental in delivering key milestones of an ongoing $9.5 million research project funded by the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P).

“Due to our onsite high-strength testing capability, were able to successfully test a number of composite sleeper technologies up to three million cycles with Austrak Pty Ltd, a world leader in railway sleeper design and production technology,” Professor Manalo said.

“Our facility allows testing of railway sleepers in both simply supported and ballast bed conditions to comply with the stringent requirements of Australian standards for existing and alternative sleeper materials.”

Established in 2002 in collaboration with the Queensland Government, USQ’s Centre for Future Materials is one of the leading composite research centres in Australia, supporting material characterisation, structural performance evaluation and fabrication facilities of composite industries in Queensland and throughout Australia.

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“Our facility allows testing of railway sleepers in both simply supported and ballast bed conditions to comply with the stringent requirements of Australian standards for existing and alternative sleeper materials.”

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