In Summary

Finding ways to use waste normally destined for landfill to build infrastructure such as roads and pavements, has seen Swinburne University of Technology’s Associate Professor Arul Arulrajah and Dr Mahdi Miri Disfani become finalists in The Australian Innovation Challenge awards.

The awards, sponsored by The Australian newspaper and Shell, reward innovative design that is for the public good, as well as breakthroughs with direct commercial potential.

Associate Professor Arulrajah and Dr Disfani’s research focuses on the use of recycled materials such as demolition glass and bricks, biosolids, dredged spoils and waste paints in civil and geotechnical engineering applications. They have had significant success in using reclaimed demolition materials in pavement, road and footpath construction.

The researchers, from Swinburne’s Centre for Sustainable Infrastructure, said their findings have been adopted by state road authorities and local governments nationwide and are currently being implemented in infrastructure projects.

“Our research has the potential to divert 8.7 million tonnes of demolition concrete, 1.3 million tonnes of broken bricks, 3.3 million tonnes of waste excavation rock, 1 million tonnes of waste glass, 1.2 million tonnes of reclaimed asphalt pavement and 400,000 tonnes of dry biosolids generated annually in Australia, away from landfill into civil and geotechnical infrastructure projects,” Associate Professor Arulrajah said.

“Several footpaths and pavements have already been constructed in Australia based on our research findings, which are now generating interest from overseas.

“The first pavement constructed with recycled glass in its base was at Laverton in Melbourne’s south-west, while the City of Manningham in Melbourne’s north-east, has used recycled glass in the construction of footpaths in its suburbs.”

Associate Professor Arulrajah and Dr Disfani have also completed new projects on cement stabilisation of recycled demolition materials, the usage of stabilised wastewater biosolids in road embankments, and the use of demolition wastes in ground improvement works.

The research findings have assisted the construction and demolition, wastewater, paint and other industries to use their by-products sustainably in civil engineering applications.

The researchers have been successful in attracting substantial research funding, and they have already received national and international recognition for the work they have done in this area.

Now in its fourth year, The Australian Innovation Challenge has attracted entries from researchers to start-up companies around the country. The award winners will be announced in late November.