USQ, Joinlox collaborate on prefabricated composite repair system

The University of Southern Queensland's Centre for Future Materials and Joinlox worked together to develop the PileJax bridge repair system.

The University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ, Harristown, Queensland, Australia) Centre for Future Materials (CFM) has partnered with Joinlox (Brisbane City, Queensland) to investigate its new prefabricated composite repair system with an easy-fit and self-locking mechanical joint called PileJax.

This system works by wrapping the composite jacket around a damaged pier or column, placing the joint key vertically along the seam to lock the jacket producing a cylindrical confinement. This simple assembly process can be carried out above and under water.

The funding received from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Research Connections program, has provided significant contribution to the successful implementation of the project. Through this funding, CFM researchers have completed the materials characterization, structural testing of concrete columns and beams repaired with Pilejax, and the finite element simulation and theoretical evaluation of the behaviour of timber and steel piles repaired with this composite repair system.

“Our successful partnership resulted in many applications of our PileJax products in repairing deteriorating bridges not only throughout Australia but also in international markets including the USA and Europe,” Joinlox CEO John Pettigrew says.

In one of the recent projects, the Pilejax was used to rehabilitate a road bridge located at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The bridge was identified by Gold Coast City Council as needing repairs after sustaining damage through environmental factors since original construction. The composite jacket was chosen over other rehabilitation jackets for its cost-saving, rapid fitment, safety, and ease of installation benefits. Each composite jacket section was installed and locked up within approximately 20 minutes, followed by a single pump operation for the full 7m height. These attributes culminated in the successful installation and rehabilitation of the bridge piles with the approval of the asset owner, contractor and engineer.

“This technology was well received by the asset owners and the engineers, when we presented the project results at the Composites Australia conference at the Gold Coast in March 2017,” USQ lead researcher Dr. Allan Manalo says. “In fact, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads is now considering the merits of this composite repair system in rehabilitating and protecting their maintained bridges.”

“This project is a strong testament that our research activities are translating to actual applications and impacting the wider community,” adds CFM director professor Peter Schubel.