The maritime industry was one of the worst affected sectors of the 2022 Queensland flood event, which not only damaged boats and vessels, but it also seriously damaged aid-to-navigation structures.
Aid-to-navigation structures are vertical pile-like structures supporting signals, markers or guidance equipment that aids vessels to safely navigate through waterways and coast waters.
Dr Hamid Ahmadi from the University of Southern Queensland is a recent Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship recipient and is aiming to develop a novel aid-to-navigation infrastructure system that is resilient to flooding events and highly durable in aggressive marine environments.
Throughout the fellowship, Dr Ahmadi will work with several industry research partners to develop a system that is made of fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, which will reshape the future of maritime infrastructures in Queensland.
Dr Ahmadi received $240,000 over two years through the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship, which supports researchers to carry out their studies to benefit Queenslanders.
Why did you choose to research this?
The 2022 flood event in Queensland was recorded as the second most expensive natural disaster in Australia’s history. It is estimated that over $5.5 billion worth of critical infrastructure was damaged during this flood, including many aid-to-navigation infrastructures. This project aims to develop new, cost-effective and flood-resilient aid-to-navigation systems made of FRP composites that are resilient to large wave and current actions during flooding events and highly durable in the aggressive marine environment.
The developed technology will eliminate the expensive maintenance activities for aid-to-navigation infrastructures, which costs Queensland on average $3.7 million per year. Since a high proportion of aid structures are constructed in regional and remote areas of Queensland, the lightweight of FRP composites will be of benefit during transport, handling, and installation. Using advanced composites instead of the steel will also eliminate marine pollution caused by the corrosion-induced products going into the water.
Who are you partnering with and why?
This project and successful translation of research outputs to deliver practical outcomes required three key collaborators:
- University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Future Materials – an experienced and leading research body in the field of civil composites design and manufacturing
- Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies – a leading composite manufacturing business to assist with developing the project concept, reviewing the technical solutions and material performance, as well as producing composite sections for the aid-to-navigation structures
- Maritime Safety Queensland – an organisation who deals with aid-to-navigation structures daily and will provide mentoring, professional, and technical expertise.
How will the funding from Advance Queensland support you on your research journey?
Being a successful applicant in the prestigious Industry Research Fellowship program enables me to secure effective partnerships with capable industrial and end-user organisations to deliver a meaningful research project that can truly benefit Queenslanders. Without the funding support from Advance Queensland, contributions from the university and industry partners wouldn’t be sufficient to cover the entire cost of the project, and consequently, I simply couldn’t go through with this research project. The Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship funding will cover part of my salary as well as a technical officer’s salary for two years allowing the funding contributions from the industry partners to be spent on other aspects of the project execution.
What are you wanting to achieve in your research?
The main objective of the proposed research project is to develop a novel aid-to-navigation infrastructure, made of FRP composites through advanced manufacturing technologies, which is resilient to large wave and current actions during the flooding and is highly durable in the aggressive marine environment. In collaboration with Maritime Safety Queensland and Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies, this fellowship program will develop new and cost-effective FRP composites for aid-to-navigation infrastructures, shaping the future of navigational aids and other critical maritime infrastructures in Queensland.
How will your research benefit and assist Queenslanders?
The innovation from this project can be implemented immediately within regional Queensland to support the expansion of fibre composite industries and associated supply chains, leading to manufacturing growth, job creation, and global recognition.
Using FRP composites will lead to an average saving of $3.7 million per year in maintenance costs of Queensland’s aid-to-navigation infrastructures. Also, using composites instead of steel will lessen the marine pollution caused by the corrosion-induced products going into our waters.
Queensland manufacturing and maritime industries need highly skilled researchers and engineers to deliver their projects, and the proposed research will contribute towards building the intellectual base for composites in civil, fish farming, and maritime infrastructures.
What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the 2022 Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program?
Honestly, it means a lot to me. I am both honoured and excited to have an opportunity to implement a truly meaningful research project that can actually benefit and assist Queenslanders in future proofing maritime infrastructures, growing the manufacturing capability of regional composite businesses, creating new jobs in priority industries and reducing marine pollution.