USQ Researcher Wins Award for Composite Railway Sleeper Study

29 May 2018

USQ Researcher Wins Award for Composite Railway Sleeper Study

The University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Dr Wahid Ferdous has been recognised for his research in engineering after winning the 2018 Railway Technical Society of Australasia Post Graduate Thesis Award.

Ferdous received the recognition for his work on optimising the use of composite materials to develop a cost-effective railway sleeper technology for replacement and maintenance of poor condition timber sleepers. His study investigated the behaviour of epoxy polymer matrix and composite sandwich panels for manufacturing an alternative railway sleeper and he was able to determine the optimal design of railway sleepers and evaluate their structural performance through experimental and numerical approaches.

“The optimal sleeper shape only needs 50% of the volume of materials required for a standard rectangular timber sleeper," Ferdous says. "That significantly reduces the high initial cost which is one of the major barriers to the potential growth of fibre composite sleepers. Moreover, the handling, installing and fastening system of the developed composite sleeper is similar to timber and requires the same equipment and machinery.”

The technology developed by Ferdous is part of USQ research that has created a safe, reliable and cost-effective alternative that could potentially replace the 2.5 million timber sleepers currently deteriorating in Australia each year.

Ferdous completed his thesis under the supervision of Associate Professor Allan Manalo and Professor Thiru Aravinthan.

“This award is a recognition of the high-quality research we are conducting at USQ," states Director of Centre for Future Materials, Professor Peter Schubel. "Dr Ferdous’ research project is a great example that the outcomes of our research activities are translating to actual applications and impacting the industry and the community.”

The 2018 Railway Technical Society of Australasia Post Graduate Thesis Award is given to the author of an outstanding doctoral or research masters on a topic concerned with the rail industry that has been undertaken in Australia or New Zealand and completed during either 2015, 2016 or 2017.

Photo provided by USQ

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