Researchers pioneer advances in energy infrastructure


A collaborative research centre, led by the University of Newcastle and directed by Laureate Professor Scott Sloan, is pioneering new approaches and software for designing cheaper and safer energy and transport infrastructure.

In an industry event today, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering will showcase its achievements throughout the 2011-2017 funding period, including how research outcomes transformed industry guidelines and engineering practice.

“We have pioneered new science-based tools for the cost-efficient design of energy and transport infrastructure which are applicable to Australia’s roads, railways, ports, pipelines and offshore energy operations,” Professor Sloan said.

“Australia will spend more than $200 billion during the next decade on the provision of transport infrastructure, will explore alternative energy solutions, and has a number of serious environmental problems arising from persistent contaminants,” Professor Sloan said.

“These are challenges the Centre of Excellence is working to address.”

ARC CEO Professor Sue Thomas said the centre is advancing Australian research and delivering tangible outcomes for Australian industries.

“In the past seven years, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering has provided a national focus for geotechnical research to address major engineering issues,” she said.

“With wide application of its scientific output, the Centre of Excellence has developed significant collaborations with industry partner organisations and created important opportunities for early-career researchers.”

Professor Sloan said the success of the Centre of Excellence “is attributable to the strong collaboration with its partners, The University of Western Australia and the University of Wollongong, as well as numerous industry supporters”.

“The Centre of Excellence combines the theoretical and computational strengths of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, the offshore expertise and experimental capabilities of Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at The University of Western Australia, and the rail geotechnics expertise at the Geomechanics and Railway Engineering Centre at the University of Wollongong,” Professor Sloan said.

Aiming to increase productivity and sustainability of the nation’s major export industries, the Centre of Excellence was awarded $17.3 million in funding from the Australian Government through the ARC Centre of Excellence scheme, and leveraged this to attract an additional $74.4 million from a range of sources including industry partners, the University of Newcastle, The University of Western Australia, the University of Wollongong and the NSW state government.