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Civil engineering network gets $9.6M for materials research


Winnipeg, MB – A research network devoted to developing fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs) and integrated fibre optic sensing (FOS) technologies has received renewed funding of $9.6 million from the federal government. Headquartered at the University of Manitoba, the ISIS Canada Research Network is a national Network of Centres of Excellence that encompasses 14 universities across the country.

The renewed funding “will give us an excellent opportunity to ensure that we are able to implement ISIS Canada technologies in civil infrastructure during the renewal period and also give us time to establish the Civionics Canada Research Network,” says Dr Aftab Mufti, the network’s president and professor of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba.

The advantages of FRPs in comparison to conventional steel reinforcement for strengthening concrete bridges and structures are two-fold. First, FRP material is super strong, six to ten times stronger than steel. Second, and most important, it is non-corrosive. Corrosion of steel reinforcement from street salt is currently the greatest factor in the rapid deterioration of existing structures. Finding an alternative material for strengthening such as glass fibre reinforced polymers is a major advancement in the design of civil engineering infrastructure. The life cycle of the structure is much longer and the annual maintenance is much less than current practice.

The advantage of using FOS technology to conduct structural health monitoring (SHM) is that for the first time design engineers can have an appreciation of the actual stresses that occur in a structure under operating conditions. It overcomes the limitations of traditional empirical design formulae. An added value of SHM is its application as a management tool for the owners of infrastructure, particularly for structures in remote locations.