Engineered Timber Structures Research Group

Our research in engineered mass timber and bio-based composite materials covers manufacturing, supply chain, material characterisation and structural design using locally and internationally sourced wood.

Our focus

Our experienced team of researchers are working on real-world solutions in the following focus areas:

  • mechanical and fracture properties of Australian and overseas wood species
  • structural design of mass engineered timber structures
  • bonding of softwood and hardwood
  • numerical simulation of timber
  • optimising hybrid engineered timber panels
  • strengthening of timber structure
  • supply chain management of timber industries
  • business value chain.

Research areas

Bamboo and engineered bamboo for structural applications

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing natural renewable materials with tremendous potential for use in construction. However, its wider application in traditional construction is restricted due to its limited size and natural non-uniformity. Engineered bamboo products such as laminated bamboo lumber, parallel bamboo strand lumber and glue laminated bamboo (GluBam) are becoming more popular due to their higher cost effectiveness, their versatility to suit specific design needs and considerable high strength-to-weight ratio.

Our researchers are collaborating with Nanjing Forestry University, who are one of the world leaders in bamboo engineering, to develop design rules for promoting the use of structural bamboo products. We are also working closely with INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) to develop ISO standards for various aspects of bamboo including testing, mechanical characterisation and design.

Business value chain

A sustainable value chain is needed to transform newly developed materials from idea to reality. We have the expertise to propose sustainable ways to enhance business efficiency by delivering the most value of a novel material at the lowest cost. While proposing a solution, we consider logistics, operations, sales and marketing, supply chain, technological advancement, human resources, and infrastructure.

We have strong capabilities in interdisciplinary areas of industrial engineering and business value chain, such as:

  • technological and organisational analysis and studies
  • business data analytics for product life cycle assessments
  • operations management of the value chain for performance or process reengineering.

Engineered timber products

Engineered timber products are becoming more popular in the construction sector due to the environmental benefit. Mass timber products such as laminated veneer lumber, glue laminated timber, cross-laminated timber and nail laminated timber are widely used for mid-rise construction. Mass timber products are also used to develop hybrid structural systems to complement the benefits offered by other traditional construction materials such as steel and concrete.

Our research team have been working closely with a number of major Australian timber producers, such as AKD Softwoods and XLam, to conduct design-oriented as well as fundamental research including:

  • developing mechanical characterisation of Australian produced radiata pine CLT
  • structural performance of hardwood-softwood hybrid CLT and their optimisation
  • advanced numerical models for engineered timber products with special focus on fracture behaviour, and structural performance of innovative connection systems in timber construction
  • adopting the circular economy concept in developing new products from reclaimed wood for connection system, including densified timber products and dowel-laminated timber.

Timber-composite structures

In order to use timber for long-span and multistorey construction, it's beneficial to increase the load carrying capacity of timber members using lightweight materials. We've used basalt, carbon and glass fibre reinforced polymer along with various engineered timber products. To evaluate the bond performance, we examine fracture and bond properties of the interface.

Our team has expertise in investigating various manufacturing techniques for producing timber-FRP composite structural elements that suit a particular application. We have additional expertise in:

  • strategic placement of FRP using optimisation techniques
  • numerical simulation of FRP-timber interface considering continuum damage mechanics and fracture mechanics-based approach
  • developing design guidelines for FRP-timber composite structural elements.

Wood and timber

The properties of timber can vary significantly due to the geographical location of trees and their species. Softwoods are mostly used in construction, but hardwoods are becoming increasingly common worldwide largely due to their additional strength and stiffness.

Our group has extensive experience in:

  • conducting experimental testing to characterise elastic, strength and fracture properties of both softwood and hardwood in three orthogonal directions of wood
  • constitutive modelling of timber, considering its anisotropic behaviour, numerical simulation of timber as a material for finite element analysis
  • conducting dynamic analysis to determine the material properties of wood non-destructively and condition assessment of timber structures.

Group members

Researchers

Name Research interests
Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri Structural rehabilitation, steel-concrete composite structures, durability of concrete, FRP-concrete composite structures
Associate Professor Mahmud Ashraf Structural design and characterisation of bio-composite materials (timber and bamboo) and high strength metallic alloys (steel and stainless steel), integrity of 3D printed structural elements, innovative hybrid structural systems for high-rise construction
Dr Kazem Ghabraie Optimisation and design, numerical modelling, failure and damage mechanics, material characterisation
Matt Jennings Cost-effective production of FRP-timber composite for construction, effective manufacturing of composites and hybrid structural elements
Dr Bidur Kafle Structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, timber structures, structural health monitoring, pavement engineering
Dr Johannes Reiner Finite element analysis, mechanics of composites materials, damage mechanics, fracture testing
Dr Sukanta Kumar Shill Fire properties of construction materials, finite element modelling, construction material characterisation, composite structures
Dr Mahbube Subhani Timber engineering, composite structures, composite materials for construction, non-destructive evaluation

PhD students

Name Thesis topic
John Paul Cabral Development and optimisation of an efficient densification method, and mechanical characterisation of densified timber
Ipshita Das Developing a novel algorithm for condition assessment of utility timber poles of an overhead electrical distribution network
Janeshka Goonewardena Development of constitutive models for structural response of engineered bamboo
Xin Li Mechanical characterisation of Australian heterogeneous cross-laminated timber
Shaikh Atikur Rahman Numerical analysis of fracture behaviour of timber adhesive bond
Vijayaragavan RajuDevelopment of hybrid structures using timber veneer and basalt fibre reinforced composites

Projects

Funded projects

  • Vibration based non-destructive evaluation of utility timber poles (2016–2021), AusNet Services, $158,879
  • Product fraud impacts on Australian Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry industries (2020–2021), AgriFutures, $67,000
  • Testing method for timber connections: Revision of AS1649 and AS1720.1 (2021), Forest and Wood Products Australia, $32,049
  • Carbon fibre composites for the built environment (2015), Arup, $9995

Contact us

For more info about our research, contact Dr Mahbube Subhani.

Interested in researching with us? Contact a researcher listed above to discuss a potential topic of interest.

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