Access to safe, affordable housing, and services (water, electricity, sanitation, telecommunications, transport systems, medical and dental services, waste disposal and recycling) demands highly creative, sustainable, robust solutions, particularly in the light of increased population numbers, catastrophic natural and human induced events. The ability (resilience) to restore and maintain these services following a major destructive event and to provide all of these services on a temporary basis at a different location are major challenges world-wide.
The provision of critical infrastructure requires the engagement of all levels of government and the engagement of the human populations at large. The concepts of smart buildings, self-healing structures in buildings (including concrete, steel and polymeric materials) and the rapid creation of specific replacement parts using 3D printing technologies all have a fundamental research basis within the Griffith School of Engineering.
This theme is well aligned with the Queensland Science and Innovation Action Plan, which has “Building resilience and managing climate risk, through the design and development of construction technologies for extreme weather event resistance (floods, cyclones, droughts) particularly in tropical environments” as one of its science and research priorities. The approach falls within the priority of “Natural advantage with clean(er) – and renewable – energy technologies development (e.g. gas, solar and biofuels).”
The theme will bring together expertise in civil, mechanical, mechatronic, communications, electrical, environmental and electronic engineering, and will encourage major engagement in industrial design, urban planning and environmental sciences across the University.
This research theme addresses the major global research question:
What are the best possible engineering solutions to the provision of critical infrastructure for human populations worldwide?
These questions will be addressed through fundamental and applied research and three specific research and development programs, with the option to create new programs as the theme develops.
Building and maintaining resilience buildings
Griffith engineering is well known for its contributions to understanding of building structures including high rise buildings, the importance of geotechnical engineering in transport and construction, an understanding of pre-fabricated concrete structures and their failure modes and the effect of coastal events on coastal buildings and infrastructure. The Gold Coast laboratory is equipped with a strong floor and compression equipment for the study of concrete testing. The published work covers developments in concrete reinforcement materials including carbon composites to maintain building integrity and to arrest catastrophic failure.
The options of including sensing technology in building structures for both laboratory testing and in existing and planned structures offers great promise in understanding and predicting failure.
The initial collaborations in this research program require the involvement in the Built Environment research centre, improved concrete testing and geotechnical measurement systems.
Power distribution and generation
The advent of localized energy generation in Australia has created opportunities to reduce the need for additional large-scale power distribution networks. The inclusion of alternative energy systems into existing and planned developments and existing and planned power networks is of significant importance to the ongoing construction environment in Australia and internationally.
The introduction of low cost alternative energy systems in the under-developed nations also provides excellent opportunities for generating change, and for research funding opportunities. For example the use of biochar and other alternative fuel sources for clean energy generation in rural and remote locations. The initial strategy in this research program will be based on current research infrastructure including the PV array on N44, the optimisation of feed-in strategies for the current distributed power infrastructure and the continued engagement with local power authorities.
New technologies in transport systems
There is significant interest world-wide in intelligent transport systems. Such systems include automated vehicles and automated highways, the routine assessment and planning of public roads and rail systems and the use of new materials in making the next generation of private motor vehicles more light weight, more energy efficient and safer. GU engineers have significant expertise in these areas of research including:
- the acquisition of bridge conditions throughout Queensland
- the development of carbon reinforced materials for vehicle construction
- novel power systems for automobiles
- automated highways and
- wireless sensor networks and cloud computing for traffic prediction and analysis
This integrated program will engage engineers across a number of disciplines to address these challenges and provide solutions. The acquisition of one or more remotely controlled, unmanned vehicles will allow rapid mapping and sensing of the coastal regions. Any such vehicle needs the development of a wide variety of autonomous sensors, the support memory for the data, the radio communications links, the storage of data in the cloud and the development of highly complex computer models to match data acquired from the real situation.
Griffith engineers have expertise in robotics for the automated deployment of sensors, the sensor and encapsulation technologies required for this very harsh environment, the radio communications technologies and data storage for the transfer of information and the computer modelling expertise to interpret the data. The inclusion of a variety of energy harvesting systems for the longer-term deployment of sensors will require the expertise of electrical engineers and sustainable energy technologies. The pollution effects in soil, water and air require expertise in environmental engineering.
Current Project Exemplar
Funding scheme: ARC Discovery Project (2015 to 2017)
Title: Progressive collapse resistance of concrete flat plate structures
Investigators: A/Prof. Hong Guan, Dr. Benoit Gilbert, Prof. Yew-Chaye Loo, Prof. Xinzheng Lu
Funding scheme: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher (DECRA) (2014 to 2016)
Title: Behaviour and reliability of Veneer based composite structures manufactured from waste hardwood plantation thinning
Investigators: Dr. Benoit Gilbert
Funding scheme: ARC Linkage Grant Scheme (2014 to 2016)
Title: Securing the essential: assisting indigenous communities and their service providers to sustainably manage water and energy supply
Investigators: A/Prof. Rodney Stewart, Prof. Poh-Ling Tan, Prof. Adrian Miller, Dr. Kelly Fielding (UQ), Dr. Cara Beal
Funding scheme: Queensland Government Accelerate Partnerships Scheme (2012 to 2015)
Title: Flattening the curve: distributed energy storage systems for peak demand management
Investigators: Prof. Junwei Lu and A/Prof. Rodney Stewart
Funding scheme: Griffith School of Engineering (2015)
Title: Vortex-induced vibration of textured tubular structures for deep-sea oil and gas production
Investigators: Dr. H. Karampour, Dr. P. Woodfield, A/Prof. H. Guan, Dr. B. Gilbert, Dr. A. Etemad Shahidi, Prof. A Ochsner and Prof. D-S Jeng
Funding scheme: Griffith School of Engineering (2015)
Title: An intelligent and sustainable Gold Coast commonwealth games village
Investigators: Dr. S. Chowdhury, Dr. J. Hossain, A/Prof. R. Stewart; Dr. A. Rahman, Dr. J-H Doh, Prof. H. Guan, Dr. B. Gilbert, Dr. H. Karanpour, Dr. G.Chai, Dr. X. Qu, Prof. D. Thiel, C. Hacker, Prof. J. Lu, Dr. W. Waters, Dr. S. Stegen, Dr. C. Beal, Dr. O. Sahin, Dr. K. Nguyen, Prof. M. Blumenstein, Dr. K. Panuwatwanich, A/Prof. H. Zhang
Industry and Research Collaborative Partners
Collaborative industry partners
- Queensland Transport and Main Roads
- Gold Coast City Council
- Logan City Council
- Redland Shire Council
- Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works
- Queensland Urban Utilities
- Unity Water
International research institutions
- Tsinghua University, China
- Exeter University, UK
- Dundee University, UK
- Cornell University, USA
- Hohai University, China
- National University Singapore, Singapore
- University of Hong Kong, China
- University of California - Davis, USA