The research is being undertaken by students from Queensland’s University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Brisbane City Council, and the Australian arm of international environmental engineering firm Consolid, which specialises in soil stabilisation methods.
According to USC professor of civil engineering construction John Yeaman, the project revolves around a new polymeric material that has been produced by Consolid Australia. The material is being tested as a moisture-inhibiting layer to separate road surfaces from black soil, which has a high water-holding capacity.
“A big problem in road making is that moisture is drawn up from under the surface and then pools just under the bitumen,” Yeaman explained. “Tree roots look for water, which is why we see roots breaking up through the road surface. If we can lay this new material as a substrate we can keep the black soil dry, which will keep the bitumen strong and prevent damage to the road surface.”
A USC student completed a benchtop study and laboratory evaluation of the material in 2015 and a pilot study of the material is now underway at Bracalba Quarry in southeast Queensland.
The 90-day pilot study will be supervised and evaluated by another USC student, who will then produce a report on the product’s feasibility.
“If successful, the product could be used as the substrate for a proposed autonomous truck road in Queensland’s Hughenden region, which would provide a more efficient freight route to the south,” a USC media release stated.
Bracalba Quarry was established in 1989 and has been owned and operated by Brisbane City Council since 2003. The quarry has its own laboratory, which is accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities for construction materials testing, as well as by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads for assessment certification of asphalt, sealing and concrete aggregates, and unbound pavements.