A project led by Prof. Jin-Guang Teng of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has been awarded a grant of more than HK$47.2 million to develop a new type of concrete structures for marine infrastructure. The amount of funding is the largest among the five projects selected in the eighth round of Research Grants Council (RGC) Theme-based Research Scheme 2018/19.
In addition to the funding from the RGC, the local participating universities in the project will provide over HK$5.2 million as matching funding, bringing the total budget of the project to more than HK$52.4 million.
Entitled "Sustainable Marine Infrastructure Enabled by the Innovative Use of Seawater Sea-Sand Concrete and Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Composites," the project targets to address the severe deterioration problem of marine infrastructure caused by steel corrosion by replacing steel with fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) as the reinforcing material. This replacement then will allow the direct use of seawater and sea-sand in making the concrete (i.e., seawater-sea-sand concrete or SSC in short). Eventually marine infrastructure will enjoy a longer life span, while energy consumption and environmental pollution will be less in the construction process.
Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, Chair Professor of CEE, PolyU, said, "PolyU is very pleased to learn the funding results and is very happy to be able to lead such a significant and impactful research project. With the use of the new type of structures (FRP-SSC structures) in marine infrastructure, great environmental and economic benefits can be derived not only for Hong Kong but also for the nation and the whole world. "
Typically, steel corrosion costs an economy around 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP). In the case of Hong Kong, 3% of the GDP in 2017 amounts to over HK$79.8 billion. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimated in 2013 that US$3.6 trillion (equivalent to over HK$28.2 trillion) would be needed in the following eight years to maintain a state of good repair for the US infrastructure.
The research project will include the development of innovative steel-free structural forms as well as new methods for the design, construction and performance monitoring of FRP-SSC structures. A key scientific challenge for the team is the establishment of a multi-scale, multi-physics approach for predicting the long-term performance of FRP-SSC structures in a marine environment over a service life of more than 50 or even 100 years. Results obtained with this method will assist greatly in the formulation of safe and economical design methods for FRP/SSC structures.
Co-principal investigators include: Prof. Christopher K.Y. Leung from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Prof. Zong-Jin Li from the University of Macau; Prof. Yi-Qing Ni and Prof. Chi-sun Poon from PolyU CEE; Dr Florence Sanchez from Vanderbilt University in the US; Prof. Tong Sun from City, University of London; Mr Sheng-Nian Wang from the CCCC Fourth Harbour Engineering Institute Co. Ltd. in the mainland China; and Prof. Li-Min Zhou from PolyU's Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The project will take five years to complete (i.e. by December 2023), with partial results becoming available at various stages of the project.