Sustainable Composite Materials and Structures Research Group

Our research focuses on various types of composite and emerging materials for construction and structures. We work closely with local and national industries to design and develop novel uses of engineered materials, including the use of recycled materials.

Our focus

Our researchers are unlocking innovative engineering solutions for sustainable composite materials and structures within our focus areas including.

  • use of green construction materials
  • implementing sustainable manufacturing processes
  • use of reclaimed and recycled materials
  • emerging construction materials
  • topology optimisation and 3D printing of construction materials
  • multi-criteria decision analysis for construction materials
  • resource recovery value chains
  • energy-efficient structures.

Research areas

Composite and emerging construction materials

The circular economy and sustainable practices are becoming increasingly common in our construction industries. The core aspect of this research group is selecting green construction material, implementing sustainable manufacturing processes and reusing reclaimed and recycled materials.

We have expertise in implementing sustainable and optimised manufacturing processes for developing composite and hybrid structural elements using novel and emerging construction materials. Some recent projects include development of:

  • durable steel alloy
  • de basalt fibre reinforced polymer (BFRP) using sustainable resin
  • geopolymer concrete
  • BFRP-geopolymer composite rebar and corrosion resistant concrete with epoxy treated carbon fibre.

We have strong capabilities to characterise these new materials, proposing constitutive law and material modelling.

Composite and hybrid structures

Apart from strength, stability and the serviceability aspect of design, durability and sustainability play an essential role in today’s construction industries. We work closely with our local and national construction industries to develop and design real-world structures by exploiting different benefits of multiple construction materials.

In collaboration with industries, we are working on pre-fabricated and modular structures using carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite, timber-CFRP composite I-beam, BFRP-geopolymer hybrid panel and fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) reinforced geopolymer concrete. In addition, we developed energy efficient steel structures, quickly deployed temporary shelters, fire-resistant structural panel and steel-concrete composite slim flooring with novel steel decking. Design equations are also proposed for the structural design of these composite and hybrid structural elements. We also have expertise in topology optimisation and 3D printing of construction material. Advanced numerical modelling based on continuum damage mechanics and/or fracture mechanics are implemented to simulate these hybrid structures.

Material selection for construction projects

When alternative materials (emerging and novel) are used for any engineering application, we need to measure their benefits against traditional practices in order to make decisions for implementation. This group specialises in multi-criteria analysis for evaluating alternative and emerging construction materials from financial, environmental and economic perspectives. We apply methods such as multi-criteria decision analysis, life cycle assessment and material flow cost accounting to provide decision-making criteria for selecting suitable construction material. We have also conducted extensive work in integrated assessment on the use of recycled concrete in structural concrete.

Special concrete and recycled materials

We have expertise in concrete technology and design of concrete structure, including:

  • synthetic and steel fibre reinforced concrete
  • lightweight concrete
  • self-compacting concrete and geopolymer concrete
  • cellular/foam concrete
  • polymer concrete
  • fast-cured and early strength gain concrete.

We have also proposed a concrete mix design using reclaimed glass bottles, medical plastic waste and carpet fibres.

Durability and concrete structure rehabilitation play a crucial role in designing and maintaining concrete structures. We have facilities to simulate the wet-dry cycle, accelerated ageing facilities, a temperature and humidity controlled environmental chamber and ultraviolet effect simulator. With these facilities, we can propose predictive models to determine the remaining strength of a structure at any point of its design life when subjected to environmental exposure.

Group members

Researchers

Name Research interests
Dr Riyadh Al-AmeriStructural rehabilitation, steel-concrete composite structures, durability of concrete, FRP-concrete composite structures
Associate Professor Mahmud AshrafStructural 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 Susanga CostaGeomechanics, unsaturated soil, numerical modelling of soil, fracture mechanics
Dr Kazem GhabraieOptimisation and design, numerical modelling, failure and damage mechanics, material characterisation
Matt JenningsCost-effective production of FRP for construction, effective manufacturing of composites and hybrid structural elements
Dr Bidur KafleStructural dynamics, earthquake engineering, timber structures, structural health monitoring
Dr Johannes ReinerAnalysis, mechanics of composites materials, damage mechanics
Dr Sukanta Kumar ShillFire properties of construction materials, finite element modelling, construction material characterisation, composite structures
Dr Mahbube SubhaniTimber engineering, composite structures, composite materials for construction, non-destructive evaluation

PhD students

Name Thesis topic
Kamyar Dalaei Studying the seismic behaviour of irregular-in-height steel structures
Mohamed Heweidak Fire resistance of geopolymer and alkali-activated materials (AAMs) in composite construction
Keerthana John Developing innovative steel-concrete composite slim flooring system with modified decking
Rahnum Nazmul Bond mechanism of basalt-based FRP bars on various environmental conditions
Srikanth PrakashMeasurement and evaluation of strategies to promote sustainable industry practice
Sherin Khadeeja RahmanInvestigation of durability of geopolymer concrete reinforced with FRP bars
Bahareh NikmehrDevelopment of user-friendly geopolymer concrete with recycled concrete aggregates (RCA)

Projects

Funded projects

  • Cellular (Foamed) Concrete – Investigation of mechanical and physical properties for civil application (2020–2021), Innovation Connection and Eifers Civil Pty. Ltd., $100,009
  • Improvement of resource recovery from waste and developing a tool to track carbon footprint (2020–2021), Innovation Connection and CMTP Pty. Ltd., $50,000
  • Eifers Rapid Set Concrete – Investigating performance and durability for civil applications (2020–2021), Innovation Connection and Eifers Concrete Pty. Ltd., $95,162
  • Experimental analysis of FormFlow’s new structural panel (2020–2021), FormFlow, $5500
  • Prefabricated composite panels, beams and footing systems for housing constructions (2019–2020), Innovation Connection and Atomic 6 Pty. Ltd., $80,911
  • Design and modelling of pedestrian bridge built from fibre reinforced geopolymer concrete (2017–2019), Austeng (Australian Engineering Solution Pty. Ltd.) and Geelong Manufacturing Councils, $29,990
  • Fibre reinforced concrete (2016 –2019), Innovation Connection and Auspits, $149,221

Contact us

For more info about our research, contact Dr Kazem Ghabraie.

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

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