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Global Road Technology and QUT Invest in the Future of Road Infrastructure

Global Road Technology and QUT Invest in the Future of Road Infrastructure

A new research partnership will deliver health and safety benefits for mine sites, regional towns and third-world countries through spray-on, “instant” roads that can make dirt roads as hard-wearing as bitumen.

The research will deliver new polymers, which, when mixed with water, can be applied from water tankers or even helicopters, to make long-lasting roads in remote locations. 

The result is longer-lasting, lower cost roads which are safer for motorists, survive adverse weather and reduce the amount of airborne dust for neighbouring workers and communities.

The partnership between Global Road Technology (GRT) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is expected to find more applications for the polymer solutions, and change the road infrastructure industry.

The high cost, construction time, and sustainability of current road infrastructure delivery methods is an ongoing concern for countries world-wide, particularly in regional and remote communities.

Dr Babak Abtahi, GRT Head of Research and Development, said different solutions were required depending on the environment, including soil conditions, temperature and rainfall.

"Given the vast types of soil we apply GRT technology to around the world, it is imperative we continue to develop different product solutions,” Dr Abtahi said.

GRT has already proven the success of its technology, building lower cost roads that are longer-lasting and faster, with completed projects in Australia and overseas, including an application at a PNG port facility that cut airborne dust that was affecting workers’ health.

The company, together with QUT, has now gone further with research into the varied performance of polymers in a range of geographic locations, and the custom development of new solutions.

GRT’s internal research and development team, together with QUT’s advanced, high-tech facilities and complementary expertise, have taken their research to the next level.

QUT Research Fellow Mariam Darestani said their investigation into the interaction between soil and polymer has allowed the team to understand why a polymer works with some soil types, but fails in creating the desired mechanical strength in other soil types.

“GRT operates by considering the many different soil types, and the characteristics that they respond well to. We are also working to develop products that work with most soil types,” Dr Darestani said.

“Polymers are very different; GRT knows this and is one of the first companies internationally to develop solutions and formulate products for different applications, whilst investing in the education of others.”

Dr Abtahi said the research would have valuable, commercial outcomes.

“Major US companies have patents for polymer solutions; our investment is a clear indication of the potential this technology presents for the future of infrastructure,” Dr Abtahi said.

“The cost to build roads with the current industry-preferred method can be millions of dollars per kilometre. GRT solutions reduce not only the costs of resources, but also time and labour.”

The GRT/QUT partnership team includes Dr Darestani and a research assistant, supported by a Chemical Engineering Professor and a Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering, who manage the project at QUT.

Undergraduates who go on to work in engineering jobs are encouraged to work with these polymers, and GRT provides in-kind support for their research projects.

Dr Darestani said QUT and GRT view the partnership as a long-term investment in the future generation of civil and industrial engineers.

“We are educating young engineers and training on the benefits of polymers over traditional construction materials, with the view that they will go on to advocate this new technology and hopefully create change within the industry.” Dr Darestani said.

“We are looking to incorporate this content into the curriculum in the future, where engineers can be educated on the future of infrastructure technology through real world examples.

GRT and QUT’s long-term investment looks to be shaking up the industry and shape road construction and infrastructure as we know it.

“We are essentially pioneering this movement towards polymers in the next generation of engineers.”

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Media contact:
GRT: Nathan Scholz, Cole Lawson Communications, +61-7-3221-2220


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