Monash University was recently awarded $5 million by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to lead a multidisciplinary team in the advancement of Australian construction materials.

Known as the Nanocomm Hub, this is a joint ARC and industry-funded initiative to pioneer research into areas such as cement additives, high performance construction materials, concrete structures, polymer composites and structures.

According to Nanocomm Hub director, professor Wenhui Duan, the goal behind the research is to deliver innovations that will transform the future of construction in Australia. 

“This is only the start of our journey to truly transform the way construction materials are manufactured in Australia. Through our work and our close connections to industry we are ensuring future advancement of the sector," Duan says.

“We are at an exciting time in the field of nanoscience and nanoengineering. The Nanocomm Hub researchers and partners will be able to use this ground-breaking technology to transform the way we live," he says.

To date, 38 Nanocomm Hub projects have been reported in over 10 publications with research teams filing at least one provisional patent, and with more in development.

Some early success by the Monash Nanocomm Hub include lighter formwork constructed with less materials, but which is also stronger and can be fabricated quicker thus saving significant labour and material costs, as well as a membrane that filters wastewater for acid waste recovery.

Other current Nanocomm Hub projects include:

  • self-healing concrete in subterranean structures
  • embedding materials with electrical and mechanical properties into cement and pavement to produce accurate data to enhance assessment of degradation and faults
  • paints and other surfaces that repel dirt and pollution
  • developing efficient and sustainable compounds for faster curing cement
  • incorporating fly ash (waste product from brown coal mining) into lightweight and stronger composite concrete