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Monash launches infrastructure testing facility to save lives

An advanced impact testing facility designed to boost the structural safety of present and future high-risk infrastructure and save lives across Australia has been launched at Monash University.

The National Drop Weight Impact Testing Facility (NDWITF) will include advanced technology that can observe the behaviour of elements under severe impact loading of up to two tonnes.

The facility has the capacity to assess the structural safety of high-risk infrastructure across Australia, including railway networks, tunnels and bridges, buildings and construction materials, as well as road safety barriers and protective equipment.

The NDWITF will also support research in the broader research community on construction, mining, geo-mechanics, energy and the environment. Fields of application and interest include construction materials under high strain loading, structural dynamics and engineering, mining excavation and rock fragmentation.

It is the result of a Monash University-led collaboration involving six other universities, including the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, University of Wollongong, University of Technology, Sydney and The University of Melbourne.

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Located at Monash University’s Department of Civil Engineering, the facility is accessible to all researchers, students and industry.

Associate Professor Amin Heidarpour, Head of Structural Engineering at Monash University, led the project. He was supported by some of Australia’s esteemed experts in this space, including Professor Xiao-Ling Zhao and Professor Mark Bradford (UNSW), Professor Guoxing Lu (Swinburne), Professor David Thambiratnam and Dr Sabrina Fawzia (QUT), Professor Alex Remennikov (Wollongong), Professor Brian Uy (Sydney), Professor Chengqing Wu (UTS), Professor Tuan Ngo (Melbourne) and Professor Pathegama Ranjith (Monash).

“Understanding the behaviour of construction and geo-materials under dynamic loading is essential in dealing with various engineering problems, such as protective structures design and impact cratering, excavation and mining, blasting and fragmentation, and risk management,” Heidarpour said.

“A state-of-the-art impact engineering facility provides a national research focus on behaviour of construction materials and systems under impact loading with unique observation techniques. The facility will advance understanding of the fundamental behaviour of critical infrastructure exposed to impact loading and will foster innovations in design and construction.

“This will ensure Australia is at the forefront of impact engineering research in the international arena, promoting local innovation and industrial competitiveness contributing to the safeguarding of Australia, saving lives and reducing losses.”

The NDWITF have been constructed with a 2000kg impact mass that has the capacity to create an impact energy of up to 200,000 J and impact velocity of up to 18m/s. Impact loading can be applied to specimens with a width of up to 1m and length of up to 2m. All displacements recorded within each test is captured by an optical 3D photogrammetry system.

A key partner in this project is Austeng, a Geelong-based engineering company who engineered, manufactured, and installed the facility in line with the University’s requirements.

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