Our Built and Natural Environments

View all the Our Built and Natural Environments related projects in detail.

  • MyComfort App for Older Aussies

    With populations ageing worldwide, it becomes timely to better understand older people’s thermal needs, so that comfort in their homes is optimized and healthy ageing achieved. However, the complex changes affecting the individual during the ageing process, although inevitable, cannot be considered linear. They can happen in different stages and intensities, resulting in an older population with a great level of diversity. Therefore, my PhD thesis aimed at developing individualised machine learning models to predict older people’s thermal preferences. The MyComfort App is one of the application explorations of these models. The App provides an online user interface for personal comfort prediction, as well as a catalogue of strategies related to personal actions, technology, building operation and design, which could aid the control and adaptation of each individual older person’s environment to increase their comfort. The App can be especially relevant for designers, caregivers and health professionals.

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    Group member:

    • Larissa Arakawa Martins
  • PFAS Remediation from Groundwater

    Our PFAS Remediation in Groundwater Project investigates the technical and economic feasibility of creating a processing plant which removes hazardous and toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from contaminated groundwater to a concentration of 100 parts per trillion. 

    This project breaks new ground in attempting to develop a continuous foam fractionation system for the removal of PFAS molecules on an industrial scale. Feasibility study found foam fractionation to offer a clean and green solution to removing PFAS molecules, as well as being appealing financially.

    In addition, the plant is designed with further treatment processes to create clean, drinkable water in line with Australian guidelines. It is our belief that upon remediation of all contaminants, the PFAS adsorption technology can be removed from the plant and the remaining process operate as a viable water treatment facility producing a drinkable product.

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    Group members:

    • Anna Woodley
    • Patrick Klingner
    • lachlan Maddaford
    • Louis Covington
    • Casey Turner
    • An Nguyen
  • Port Wakefield WWTP Redesign

    The Port Wakefield Wastewater treatment plant is at the end of its useful life and a desired increase in the treated water quality and wastewater influent quantity have necessitated the redesign and rebuild of the facility. This redesign aims to achieve class-A unrestricted reuse, that qualifies for all non-potable reuses. This redesign of the plant includes a 3-stage preliminary treatment, that includes a 3 mm mechanically cleaned screen, vortex grit removal chamber, and 1 mm compact cleaner, to remove large heavy solids from wastewater. The secondary Treatment is achieved via a Membrane Bioreactor. This unit biologically treats the water and a hollow fibre membranes filter results in clarified effluent water. Finally, the tertiary stage disinfects via sodium hypochlorite dosing and a UV light disinfection chamber. These units deactivate harmful bacteria and viruses in the water before being sent to the holding lagoon.

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    Group members:

    • Pantju Albert C.R. Nam
    • Alina Tran
    • Dmitri Jarkov
    • Erin Pottharst
    • Franco De'Angelis
    • Hanah Azman
  • 3D Printing Concrete Applications

    3D printing concrete (3DPC) is becoming more commonplace in industry. Whether it will replace traditional casting techniques is yet to be determined. Due to the layer-by-layer process of 3DPC, there exists weak interfaces between layers. This project investigates the effect these interfaces have and its application in structural design and rock mechanics. By using software to program the 3D printer, different concrete forms were printed with varying layer orientations to explore the effect that these variations have on the weak interfaces. The printed samples were cured for 28 days, to ensure maximum strength was reached. Cylindrical specimens were then cored out of the printed samples to encapsulate each layer change, before being tested under tension and compression. Failure points were then recorded and compared. The results can be applied to further understand how 3DPC can be used to fabricate stronger structures and mimic defects and layer orientations in natural rocks. 

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    Group member:

    • Ahmad Musa
  • Behavior of Geopolymer Concrete Columns

    Offshore hydraulic concrete structures are prone to corrosion since ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) is composed of metallic materials. The cement industry also attributes to 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Aiming to mitigate the negative impacts of corrosion on offshore structures whilst simultaneously capitalizing on an environmentally friendly substitute to OPC, the concept of ultra-high performance geopolymer concrete (UHPGC) columns was investigated. Analytical, numerical and practical work was conducted in order to decipher if UHPGC is a structurally viable alternative.  A range of experimental tests to analyse the compressive and tensile properties for double-skin UHPGC columns was conducted alongside supporting theoretical work. The results of the investigation shows that UHPGC columns yield compressive strengths on par with ultra-high performance OPC concrete whilst showcasing improved tensile behavior. Therefore, UHPGC can be used as a substitute in marine structures after considering the complex and sensitive nature of its construction process.  

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    Group member:

    • Alexander Schild
  • What went wrong?

    Over the past 20 years, there has not been an improvement in the number of incidents and deaths due to structural failures, suggesting that failure analysis in structural engineering has not been able to support a cycle of continual improvement. We wanted to provide a framework that can be used to support system improvements in structural engineering after accidents and near misses. In this project, we developed a typology to identify good failure analysis techniques used in nuclear engineering, aerospace engineering and structural engineering fields. We then compare the popularity of the chosen methods in each field to draw conclusions and suggestions for future analysis. Overall, this helps engineers better understand failures and make future structures safer for all users.  

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    Group members:

    • Charles Lam
    • John Yam
    • Deep Patel
  • Green Design of Reinforced Concrete

    Rising concerns of climate change have necessitated action to minimise global carbon emissions. Concrete has been found to be a significant contributor to global energy use and emissions. However, concrete is an essential component of the built environment and so the mission towards minimising emissions involves sustainable design through the use of green concrete and reinforcement alternatives. The purpose of this project was to quantify and develop strategies for the minimisation of Global Warming Potential (GWP) for a reinforced concrete office building. This was achieved through analysis and the variation of geometric and material properties. The undertaken analyses are used to form a conceptual design framework which quantifies the most effective design factors for sustainability. Based on the structural design requirements, the extensive pool of feasible design solutions are filtered to identify design options which minimise GWP with respect to CO2-eq emissions and cost. 

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    Group members:

    • Dulan Kanahala Gamage
    • Ebrahim Awaty
    • Carey Zimmer
    • Travis Kuchel
  • Infrared Thermography of Concrete

    Structural health monitoring of aging civil infrastructure is necessary to ensure the safety and longevity of a structure. Various techniques have been developed to perform condition assessments, with infrared thermography posing great potential in the industry for its efficiency and cost effectiveness.  This project sought to identify the usefulness and limitations of infrared thermography for use on steel-reinforced concrete structures. Infrared thermography involves the use of thermal cameras to find heat inconsistencies emitted by concrete; indicative of potential defects such as cracking and corrosion. Using a combination of laboratory specimen and real concrete structures, the project aimed to quantify the heating conditions required to identify defects from thermal images, along with the extent of defects that can be detected. The results validate the effectiveness of infrared thermography and the need to apply this technique into industry.

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    Group members:

    • Jackson Archibald
    • Gerard Brandt
    • Nicholas Fassos
    • Flynn Howie
    • Lachlan Hunter
  • Future bushfire evacuation risk

    This project explores and develops methods that enhance understanding on the effect of social vulnerabilities on bushfire evacuation risk. Bushfires have wide-ranging economic, social, and environmental impacts which are difficult to quantify. A conceptual framework has been developed that aggregates a range of social and physical indicators into a single vulnerability factor, which is converted into an exposure value and a risk ranking by incorporating population and the hazard. This framework has been used in a case study of the Greater Adelaide region to assess current bushfire evacuation risk levels across the area and their leading causes. Future scenarios have been generated and modelled to investigate how these risk levels might change under varying future conditions.  This work will aid efforts to mitigate bushfire evacuation risk, contributing to the improvement of community resilience in the Greater Adelaide area to bushfire events.

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    Group members:

    • Nathan Lines
    • Nicholas Jurkovic
    • Cammie Williams"
  • Smart stormwater reduces flooding

    The stresses placed on stormwater systems are rising with increases in extreme rainfall and urbanisation. Traditional design approaches have focused on expensive, “passive” infrastructure upgrades that cannot adapt to future increase in peak flow due to climate change. Smart real-time control of stormwater storages represents an opportunity to reduce peak flows and adapt to climate change. Current research has been limited to virtual modelling studies. This project will, for the first time, evaluate the use of real-time control in a physical stormwater storage system. This physical storage system has the ability to generate a range of design storms as provided by national flood estimation guidelines. The experiments undertaken demonstrate that smart control approaches are better at reducing peak flows or reducing storage overflows compared with traditional approaches, such as passive detention and passive retention. Insights on the limitations of virtual modelling studies to represent physical systems are also provided.

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    Group members:

    • Oscar Page
    • thomas oates
    • Daniel Marchesan
  • Is Hydropower Future proof?

    Assets such as hydropower stations rely on the climate to generate renewable energy, making them vulnerable to the impacts of future climate change and variability. Testing the performance of these systems under a series of scenarios helps us understand how much the climate can change before energy production is seriously impacted. This project investigates a type of hydropower; run-of-river, which generates electricity by diverting streamflow through a power station turbine. The performance of this system under a suite of changes to rainfall and evapotranspiration is evaluated. Tests involve varying average rainfall and evapotranspiration, intensity of extreme weather events, and seasonal distribution of rainfall. Results reveal how “far” the climate could change before the performance of a station is no longer adequate to support a community. Modelling indicated that run-of-river systems are more vulnerable to changes in precipitation than evapotranspiration, and adversely impacted by variability in spring rainfall.

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    Group members:

    • Susie Greco
    • Caleb Gray
    • Matthew Bull
  • Build Smarter with Smart Cement

    Cement-based materials are prone to structural failure due to their brittle nature, and while it is possible to theoretically predict the cracks and damages, it is not possible to track and quantify the development of cracks and damages in real time. Advances in cementitious technology have led to the capability to produce smart cement with intrinsic piezoresistivity and 3D printing, a new construction technology that reduces material waste and eliminates the need for formwork. The goals of the project were to design and create smart cement mortar through the incorporation of pristine graphene, determine the optimal concentration of graphene which yields the largest change of electrical resistivity, and determine the mechanical and electrical effects of 3D printing. It has been undertaken through a combination of tensile, compressive and electrical tests conducted on various concentrations of graphene. The results will further demonstrate the practicality of smart infrastructure in large scale operations.

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    Group members:

    • Daniel Lai
    • Kim San Thai
    • Shawn Ng
    • Thuong Phi Nguyen
  • Structural Insulation Panels

    Structural Insulation Panels (SIPs) offer a more sustainable structural panel through improved insulation of structural members and are comprised of shear connectors between two concrete wythes separated by foam. The strength of SIPs has not been obtained to a level that is adequate for industry however, due to the premature failure of the shear connectors between the concrete wythes, preventing complete composite from developing and maximising panel strength.

    The aim of this study was to test the performance of Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) shear connectors with circular hollow and rectangular hollow cross sections. Laboratory testing was undertaken to test the pull-out capacity and shear capacity of both types of shear connector in model panels. In addition to this, numerical modelling was undertaken to recreate the laboratory testing to validate the numerical models and facilitate accurate design and modelling of full SIPs with multiple shear connectors.

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    Group members:

    • Samuel Laube
    • William Mcgowan
    • Lachlan Paddick
    • William Thomas
  • SiloEye: grain monitoring

    Grain is a significant semi-liquid asset which needs to be constantly maintained and can be used to finance essential farm operations. However, banks are currently unwilling to lend against in-silo grain due to uncertainty over storage conditions. Industry solutions exist but cost prohibits mass industry adoption. The aim of this project is to develop a cost-effective, secure grain monitoring solution for the masses.

    This project, in collaboration with Trust Provenance, will monitor parameters including temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide, which are essential to maintain grain quality. It will report measurements to a data server over a wireless network. The system will contain tamper-evident features to increase physical security and ensure data integrity. The design will demonstrate that it is possible to produce a cost-effective system to monitor conditions in silos and facilitate decision-making that maintains grain value.

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    Group members:

    • Elyan Shaawi
    • Majd Hassan
    • Hasan Hussain
  • The band-aid of Antarctica

    A mathematical model predicts the Antarctic shelf flexure forced for ocean wave. Ice shelves are important in regulating the sea level rise and many evidences have shown ocean wave can trigger the ice shelf loss. It is significant to have a model to analyse the shelf flexure and make correct predictions for the possibility of shelf disintegration. The model is validated with measurements taken on site.

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    Group member:

    • Noah Day
  • Sensing the (structural) vibe

    Civil engineering structures are hard to test. We can’t exactly shake a building to check its strength, so model simulations are used instead. However, simplifications often need to be made when developing these models, which come at the cost of accuracy. Our project addresses this problem by using onsite vibration measurements. In collaboration with the Seismological Association of Australia, advanced motion sensors were installed on the University's tallest building to measure tiny vibrations generated by ambient wind and traffic noise. We investigated if we could use these measurements to understand how the building vibrates – an important aspect of its strength. Software was developed to analyse these vibration measurements, and a 3D simulation of the building was created to compare with the analysis. Our project was successful at determining the vibrational behaviour of the building using the motion sensor measurements.

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    Group members:

    • Owen Piccinin
    • Tam Tran
  • Soil - want some salt with that?

    Hindmarsh clay is one of the most abundant soil types found in Adelaide, South Australia. Soil water salinity is an increasing issue and due to this, it was considered that expansive soils with high levels of pore water salinity could be difficult to construct footings on. However, recent research has suggested the changes in volume due to pore water salinity, may not be as significant as once thought. 

    The project aims to conducts various geotechnical tests to perform a comparison between the Hindmarsh clay's behaviour with and without salt (Sodium Chloride: NaCl) present. 
    Tests were conducted to quantify changes in volume, shear strength, and the relationship between suction and moisture content, for soil samples with and without NaCl present. Finally, a scanning electron microscope (SEM) was utilised to take images of the soil samples, so that linkages can be made between molecular changes and the test results.

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    Group member:

    • Genevieve Virgara
  • Antartic Ice Shelves

  • Can Small Rocks Carry Giant Trucks

  • CO2 Reduction in Shipping Industry

  • Damage detection using ultrasonic guided wave

  • The Future of Our Roads

  • Antartica Cyclones Pancakes

  • A better wetland, A better future

  • Smart Sewer Systems

  • Use of RFA in New Concrete Mixtures

  • Would you fly in a 3D printed plane

  • Simulation of Pedestrian Motion in Buildings

  • Geotechnical Dewatering Model

  • Soil Carbon Its more than Dirt