Geelong is getting age-defying, carbon fibre reinforced bridges thanks to clever procurement

By intouch posted 23 August 2018 01:14

  

The City of Greater Geelong has used an innovative procurement strategy to replace ageing timber bridges with a 100-year maintenance-free, carbon fibre reinforced design. 

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Photo: Stock image

To encourage sustainable innovation the City, with support from Cleantech Innovations Geelong, tendered for a 100-year maintenance free pedestrian bridge in 2017.

The tender invited companies to come up with solutions to the costly maintenance problem associated with traditional bridges – usually made of timber, steel or concrete – which cost the City about $500,000 each year to inspect, repair, maintain and replace each year.

The winning submission came from a consortium including local manufacturer Austeng, Deakin’s cutting-edge Waurn Ponds Carbon Nexus facility and Australian engineering company Rocla. The consortium researched and developed an innovative new building product made from geopolymer, including some recycled materials, and reinforced with carbon fibre, which will be stronger and longer lasting than existing products.

The first two bridges slated to be replaced with the new design are timber structures over Cowies Creek in Deppler Park. Construction is expected to begin this year.

The tender was the first in Australia to be offered using a Procurement for Innovation process, which aims to encourage the development and viability of clean technology – economically viable products that harness renewable materials and energy sources while reducing emissions and waste – using the substantial buying power of public sector procurement. 

Austeng Managing Director and Director Ross George said the new material will potentially eliminate ‘concrete cancer’ going forward and provide a new and disruptive approach that will have wide application in the construction industry generally.

“Procurement for Innovation is one of the game-changing services provided by Cleantech Innovations Geelong. It was the catalyst for our company to collaborate with others to combine our expertise and to bring a new product to market,” George said.

The Procurement for Innovation process was enabled by Cleantech Innovations Geelong, an alliance of business and industry which aims to establish Geelong as a Centre of Excellence for clean technology in Australia by attracting investment, creating jobs and building skills. It is jointly developed through the state government’s Manufacturing Productivity Network, the Geelong Manufacturing Council and the City of Greater Geelong’s Future Proofing initiative.

Along with a commitment to buy a new innovative product which is not yet available on the market, the project provided a longer than normal deadline for the tender, as well as grants and support for tenderers to invest in research and access international expertise towards their submissions. 

The Austeng-led consortium beat seven other tenderers from across Australia. 

Cr Peter Murrihy, the City’s Co-Chair Social and Infrastructure Planning said, “Faced with challenges like climate change and the fast pace of economic trends, sustainable development needs innovation in terms of new products and services and how we procure them. This project, developed in Geelong, is an example of how we can lead the way in bringing sustainable solutions to the market, which is a key aspiration of our community-led clever and creative vision.”
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