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University Research Showcase

  • UWA, Engineering Lecture Theatre 2 37 Fairway Crawley 6009 Australia (map)

The Western Australia Chapter of the Australia Geomechanics Society invites you to the September’s technical session featuring 4 short (10min) presentations from current PhD candidates from Curtin University and UWA. This event is designed to highlight current geotechnical research being undertaken and facilitate interaction and sharing of ideas between industry professional and university researchers.

About the speakers:

Hayder Abdullah - Curtin University Stabilisation of Soft Clay Soils with Fly-Ash Based Geopolymer ABSTRACT: Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) has been widely employed as a traditional binder for soil stabilization, although it encounters serious limitations of environmental nature. Recently, geopolymer has become an attractive alternative binder that potentially overpasses the existing environmental limitations of OPC. However, the literature lacks detailed information in relation to the mechanical behaviour and characteristics of geopolymer-treated soils. The aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive experimental study on the performance of fly-ash geopolymer incorporating granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) for stabilisation of soft clay soils at ambient temperature. An experimental programme was conducted and an optimisation study using several combinations of geopolymer ingredients was performed. The experimental programme included soil plasticity, pulverization, compaction, unconfined compressive strength, durability, pH performance, leaching, microstructural analysis, and monotonic and cyclic triaxial tests. The outcomes of the experimental programme was then used to develop a design methodology and a set of guidelines for stabilisation of clay soils using geopolymer. The results indicate that all examined clays experienced an increase in their physical and mechanical properties with the addition of geopolymer. However, the involved minerals of treated clays were found to greatly affect the level of enhancement, leading to the fact that despite the benefit of using geopolymer as an effective and environmentally-friendly alternative binder to OPC, it may not be considered as a universal binder for all clay types.

Nicole Fiumana- UWA Developing Active Suction Anchors for Offshore Renewables ABSTRACT: The foundation systems for floating renewable energies currently involve up to the 30% of the total project costs. Innovation is needed in order to accommodate the overconservative design practise inherited from the Oil & Gas industry to more efficient anchoring systems. One possible solution is the application of active suction on caisson foundations. The concept of active suction consists in pumping water from the inside of the caisson to actively apply a differential pressure across the lid. The additional resistance due to this differential pressure increases the tensile capacity beyond that mobilised by friction at the soil-skirt interface. From a design point of view the foundation design would rely on the frictional drained capacity to withstand operational loads and on the temporary additional tensile capacity generated from active suction to resist peak loads. Analytical predictions, experimental campaigns, conducted in the new 10m diameter centrifuge at the University of Western Australia and numerical simulations, are undertaken to investigate the governing physical mechanism. Obtained results proved the potential of active suction for capacity increase and aims to provide insights on the established seepage regime potentially governing the physical mechanism in place and the resulting uplift resistance.

Terry Griffiths - UWA Subsea Cable Stability on Rocky Seabeds – Comparison of Field Observations Against Conventional and Novel Design Methods ABSTRACT: Accurate assessment of lateral resistance is critical to ensure the on-bottom stability and integrity of subsea pipes and cables in the oil/gas and marine renewable energy industries. However, on rocky seabeds recommend practices provide limited recommendations on pipe/seabed interaction, suggesting only a single value for the friction coefficient of 0.6. This presentation reports on a programme of physical experiments and theoretical modelling investigating the lateral resistance of pipes on rocky seabeds. It is shown that the peak and mean effective friction can significantly exceed the Coulomb interface friction coefficient when the pipe diameter is similar to the median rock diameter. Further research highlights opportunities to refine predictions of hydrodynamic forces accounting for the seabed rugosity and extensive gappiness between the pipe and seabed. We apply these new design insights to subsea cables installed on rocky seabeds by MeyGen for Phase 1a of the Pentland Firth Inner Sound tidal stream energy project. These cables are observed to be stable despite regular severe metocean conditions meaning conventional engineering methods predict gross instability. Our work foreshadows a new design approach that offers more efficient pipe and cable design to reduce project capex and enhance through-life integrity management.

Mohamed Shams - Curtin University Simulating the Behaviour of Slab Foundations on Reactive Soils using Hydro-Mechanical Finite Element Numerical Modelling ABSTRACT: The main objective of this research is to enhance the current design practice of the design of stiffened slab foundations on reactive soils through advanced numerical modelling. The study presents sophisticated three-dimensional (3D) hydro-mechanical finite element (FE) numerical models of coupled flow-deformation and stress analyses capable of simulating the complex behaviour of slab foundations on reactive soils. The decisive parameters of the developed FE models are described in detail and the modelling efficacy is verified through three case studies. The ability of the FE models to simulate the moisture diffusion and suction variations in relation to climate changes is validated through two case studies involving field observations. A third case study involving a hypothetical stiffened slab foundation on reactive soil is used for comparison with one of the most commonly used traditional design methods. The developed FE models are found to perform well and overcome some of the most significant limitations of available traditional methods, leading to more reliable design outputs. The Models are used in an extensive parametric study to produce design charts, along with a design procedure, which are congregated to form a stand-alone new design method. A software called SFORS, adopting the new design method, is developed and verified through numerical examples against the commercial software SLOG that adopts the well-known Mitchell’s Method. The developed FE models are also used in a study to investigate the efficacy of using a sand cushion beneath the slab foundation in an attempt to reduce the thickness of stiffened slab foundation in mitigating the damage caused by reactive soils.

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