The UOW Defence Grants scheme was introduced in 2019 to build new collaborations with external partners in areas of specific defence interest to UOW.

The first UOW Defence Grant was awarded to a team led by Prof Alex Remennikov of the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering for a collaborative project with Flexiroc Pty Ltd and Australian Army to develop a new spray-on material to provide blast and ballistic protection to existing buildings and to carry out blast tests using the Advanced Blast Simulator at the National Facility for Physical Blast Simulation (NFPBS). The new material, Protectiflex, combines recycled crumbed rubber from old tyres with composite fibres in a cementitious mix design. Four masonry walls were built in the EIS Research Laboratory in Russell Vale and sprayed with Protectiflex as shown in the figure below:

 

Blast testing demonstration of the masonry walls coated with Protectiflex was performed on February 11, 2020 at the NFPBS in Russell Vale. Over 30 guests from industry, Tyre Stewardship Australia, NSW Government and Department of Defence attended the demonstration. The event was also covered by Channel 7 News, Channel 10 News, ABC News and WINTV. During the event, two masonry walls were blast tested to demonstrate the effectiveness of new protective material. Images below show how the walls performed in the blast tests. The unprotected masonry wall (left) was completely destroyed by the blast, while the wall coated with Protectiflex (right) material survived the blast with only minor cracks.

Successful outcomes of this project funded by the UOW Defence Grant will result in new protective technology for Australian Army and new industry funding to continue this research and conduct a larger-scale experimental program at the National Facility for Physical Blast Simulation.