Funding boost awarded to building materials researchers

Photo: Innovation Minister Kate Jones with Professor Allan Manalo and Dr Leila Javazmi.

Two University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researchers, whose work is said to have the potential to revolutionise manufacturing, have been awarded a total of $480,000 in Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship funding to help drive their research into materials innovations.

Queensland’s Innovation Minister Kate Jones awarded nanotechnology researcher Dr Leila Javazmi $180,000 towards her work on nanofibers (strings with a diameter of 100 nanometres or less). Because of their size and properties, nanofibers can be used in tissue engineering, drug delivery systems, and products such as protective clothing and energy storage.

Javazmi will use graphene nanofibers to create low-cost and high-efficient sensors for the multi-billion dollar composites manufacturing industry. The university says her research has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing in Queensland.

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

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

USQ has the only pultrusion line of Australian universities, as well as the advanced electrospinning apparatus, designed by Javazmi, which draws out minuscule threads from a material using an electric charge.

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

Civil engineering professor Allan Manalo has been awarded $300,000 towards developing a non-corrosive alternative to steel-reinforced concrete for stronger, more durable jetties and boat ramps. The research builds on earlier work 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,” Manalo said.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads will use the new technology in boating infrastructure projects. Inconmat Australia will manufacture and supply the new material, and Gympie-based SkillCentred Queensland will install the infrastructure.

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