Age-defying structures to last millennia

Advanced Fibre Cluster creates world-first in Geelong

The principles of construction used for the Roman Colosseum are being applied to the development of pedestrian footbridges as part of a Geelong geopolymer project that looks set to solve the multiple challenges of concrete cancer, embedded energy, lifecycle costs and the circular economy.

The project involves the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong, Austeng, Deakin University and the City of Greater Geelong, as well as Australian concrete solutions company, Rocla.

In 2019, the partners validated the strength of the carbon fibre reinforced geopolymer beams that do away with the need for traditional steel reinforcement.

The carbon fibre forms the backbones for world-leading carbon fibre geopolymer pedestrian bridges being built for the City of Greater Geelong.

“We found the new beams significantly stronger than equivalent steel reinforced beams,” says Austeng Managing Director, Ross George.

“These are structures that compare to the Colosseum – which is essentially a geopolymer structure,” he said.

Deakin University civil engineering experts Kazem Ghabraie and Mahbube Subhani completed the design of the bridges using durable carbon and glass fibre reinforced polymer.

Development and research for the project was supported through matched funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre.

“Structures made with steel reinforced concrete require maintenance about every five years and major maintenance or rehabilitation every 20 years,” says Dr Subhani said.

“This bridge should not require any maintenance for the whole of its design life.”

Carbon fibre and glass fibre reinforced polymer is stronger than steel and five times lighter than reinforcing steel.

To encourage sustainable innovation in line with its community-led clever and creative vision, the City of Greater Geelong, with support from Cleantech Innovations Geelong, had tendered for a 100-year maintenance-free pedestrian bridge in 2017.

The tender invited companies to come up with solutions to the costly maintenance problem associated with traditional bridges – usually made of timber, steel or concrete – which cost the City around $500,000 to inspect, repair, maintain and replace each year.

The winning submission came from a consortium through Advanced Fibre Cluster members, local manufacturer Austeng, Deakin’s Carbon Nexus Deakin Civil Engineering Facility as well as Rocla.

The first two bridges to be replaced with the new design are timber structures over Cowies Creek in Deppler Park (“Seagull Paddock”). Construction is expected to completed in late 2019.

Media releases:

City of Greater Geelong
Age defying bridges for a clever and creative city

Deakin University
Deakin researchers design maintenance-free bridge for Geelong park