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ARC grants funding for new research project on developing sustainable construction materials

Prof. Arul Arulrajah

Repurpose It, together with a number of local and international industry leaders and researchers, has been awarded a $442,000 ARC Linkage Scheme Grant to support innovation in waste management and construction.

We sat down with Prof. Arul Arulrajah, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the Swinburne University of Technology, who is the lead researcher on the project, to talk about the project’s objectives and expected outcomes.

What is the problem you’re aiming to solve?

Next to water, sand is our most consumed natural resource, and our global construction industry is using it faster than nature can create it. Worldwide, we go through 50 billion tonnes of aggregate every year, with sand mines and transportation harming local communities and the environment.

The ideal sand for construction is not what is found in abundance in the desert, but the sand in riverbeds and banks – the rise in demand for this kind of sand is putting intense pressure on river ecosystems globally.

Why is this research important?

By offering alternative, ‘environmentally friendly’ road construction materials, this project has the potential to open new markets for recycled sand and demolition waste. This will

significantly reduce our carbon footprint, by reducing pressures on virgin sand resources, and extend the lifespan of construction materials that would have otherwise been sent to landfill.

We see this research playing a major role in the future of the Australian waste management and road construction industries.

So, let’s break this down – what do we hope to achieve through this research?

This project aims to develop biocements with recycled sand and demolition wastes as road

construction materials. We hope to offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional construction materials, by incorporating demolition waste by-products, namely sand, and an environmentally-friendly biocement binder.

Anticipated national benefits from this research include:

  • Carbon savings through the diversion of 20 million tonnes of demolition waste annually from Australian landfills
  • 50 per cent reduction of carbon emissions with the usage of novel biocement as an alternative pavement binder
  • Significant reduction in the need for quarry materials
  • Opening of new markets for Australia’s waste management and road construction industries

What is unique about this research?

While companies such as Repurpose It have been working to reduce the reliance on extracted sand and virgin construction materials for some time, this research allows for the collaboration of researchers, universities and businesses from across the globe to generate new knowledge.

This project is a collaboration between Repurpose It, Stretford Civil Constructions, Chaiyong Kamai Co., as well as investigators from the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne University, Nanyang Technological University and Suranaree University.

Why is the ARC funding important?

ARC’s funding schemes aim to encourage and support research partnerships across industries that find real-world solutions to problems facing Australians today, and in the future.