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13th July 2017, Darling Heights

A joint success in bridge repair

The Centre for Future Materials (CFM) at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia has partnered with Brisbane-based Joinlox to investigate a new and innovative prefabricated composite bridge repair system with an easy-fit and self-locking mechanical joint called PileJax.

The system works by wrapping a composite jacket around a damaged pier or column, and placing the joint key vertically along the seam to lock it and produce a cylindrical confinement. The simple assembly process can be carried out both above and underwater.

Bridge pier repair using Pilejax. © CFM/ Joinlox

Funding received from Research Connections programme of the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s, has provided a significant contribution to the successful implementation of the project. Through it, CFM researchers have completed the materials characterisation, structural testing of concrete columns and beams repaired with Pilejax, and the finite element simulation and theoretical evaluation of the behaviour of repaired timber and steel piles.

 “Our successful partnership has resulted in many applications for PileJax products in repairing deteriorating bridges, not only throughout Australia, but also in international markets including the USA and Europe,” said Joinlox CEO John Pettigrew.

In one recent project, the Pilejax was utilised to rehabilitate a road bridge located at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The bridge was identified by Gold Coast City Council as needing repairs after sustaining damage through environmental factors since original construction. The composite jacket was chosen over other rehabilitation jackets for its cost-saving, rapid fitment, safety, and ease of installation. Each composite jacket section was installed and locked up in approximately 20 minutes, followed by a single pump operation for the full seven metre height. These attributes culminated in the successful installation and rehabilitation of the bridge piles with the approval of the asset owner, contractor and engineer.

“This technology was well received by the asset owners and the engineers, when we presented the project results at the Composites Australia conference at the Gold Coast in March 2017,” USQ lead researcher Dr Allan Manalo explained. “In fact, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads is now considering the merits of this composite repair system in rehabilitating and protecting their maintained bridges.”

“This project demonstrates that our research activities are translating to actual applications and impacting the wider community,” added CFM Director Professor Peter Schubel.

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