Making New Strategic Partnerships

With ARC Linkage Project grants

The UOW is an international network of strategic partnerships - and we partner for a reason. Collectively we can tackle major global issues more effectively, and develop the next generation of exceptional researchers and industry leaders.

To help build such partnerships, the ARC's Linkage funding schemes encourages cooperative approaches to research and promotes national and international research partnerships between researchers, business, industry and community organisations. As a result, there is a transfer of skills, knowledge and ideas that benefits all. The UOW is pleased to announce two recent Linkage projects (a LIEF and LP) to further strengthen our partnerships.

Partnering with Bluescope Steel - ARC LIEF - Tribology Lab upgrade for UOW

An ARC Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment & Facilities (LIEF) grant awarded to Senior Professor Kiet Tieu for a total value of $500K (including $246K from the ARC) sees him partnering with Bluescope Steel and other universities such as UNSW, USyd, Deakin and RMIT, to upgrade a Spectroscopy facility to ensure a combined assessment of materials with sub-micrometer accuracy, and from room temperature up to 800oC.

The equipment upgrade with an added Raman spectroscopy (and a hot stage) will be unique in Australia. The integrated system will evaluate how the chemistry and structure of materials contribute to mechanical behaviours. In particular, a real-time understanding of the intrinsic mechanical properties of microstructural features within materials that operate under extreme conditions is significant for developing advanced materials that achieve desired mechanical function and performance. 

“The nanoindenter equipped with a hot stage and an in-situ Raman enables quantitative, high-resolution nanomechanical and nanotribological measurements to be performed over a broad temperature range (including up to 800°C) in many manufacturing processes such as hot rolling, forging, extrusion and heat treatment,” said Prof. Tieu. 

“This is important because the surface/interface composition is likely to change after a material cools to ambient temperature, thereby obscuring the chemical phases that were active during the test at high temperature.” 

“As far as I know only four of these systems are available worldwide, one in Taiwan, one in Europe and two in the US. They don’t do what we do at high temperature (up to 800oC). For me the equipment will enable us to say that our results for high temperature process are far more accurate than others who had to do the characterisation of the surface ex-situ at room temperature,” said Prof. Tieu. 

The facility is located in the Tribology Laboratory in the School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronics and Biomedical Engineering at UOW. 

UOW Chief Investigators: Prof Kiet Tieu, Prof Jiazhao Wang, Prof Elena Pereloma, Prof Brian Monaghan and Prof Shujun Zhang. 

Partnering with Douglas Partners, Glencore Coal Assets Aust. & Manildra – ARC LP

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna (pictured below) and his team were awarded nearly $800k for an interdisciplinary ARC Linkage Project ($570k from ARC and the rest from Industry) to fully understand soil-water interaction to ensure the sustainable development of floodplains. 

The project investigates the bio-chemical clogging of permeable reactive barriers (PRB) to develop a more effective solution to treat acidic soils and groundwater, and investigates the role of bacteria in the floodplain soil. Australian coastal floodplains and underground coal mines are often affected by acidic groundwater caused by the oxidation of pyrite to form sulphuric acid, and this process is catalysed by certain strains of bacteria.

“Acid sulfate soils pose major geo-environmental concerns because the effluents can cause serious damage to the soil-water environment, ground infrastructure and farming. It is critical to quantify the performance of permeable reactive barriers which can neutralise the groundwater and soil acidity before it is discharged to nearby waterways,” said D/Prof. Indraratna.

Expected outcomes are enhanced PRB design methods and sound geotechnical field monitoring to provide significant industry benefits, such as: protecting agriculture and aquaculture industry from acid leachate, the prevention of concrete and steel ground infrastructure from acid attack, and mine-site rehabilitation. 

The project also involves mathematician Professor Natalie Thamwattana (an honorary professional Fellow at UOW and Chief Investigator on the grant) who will focus on the sophisticated computational work which will help predict the long term performance of PRBs.

“We are keen to develop a computational model that can couple traditional geotechnical engineering with microbiology and geochemistry to represent the natural processes of time-dependent clogging, and then apply our model to acidic floodplains and mine sites, including the Shoalhaven Floodplains (Nowra) and Great Greta Colliery at the Hunter Valley, said Prof. Indraratna.

The LP funding will help support the strategic research alliances between the UOW research team and its partners: Douglas Partners P/L, Glencore Coal Assets Australia P/L and Manildra P/L.

UOW Chief Investigators: Prof Buddhima Indraratna, Dr Ana Heitor, Prof Ngamta Thamwattana (based at University of Newcastle) and Prof Faisal Hai.