Prof Billy Boshoff, from the Unit for Construction Materials (UCM), Stellenbosch University, visited the University of Bath for three months in the beginning of 2017 as part of his sabbatical. The title of the collaborative project is: "Reducing the environmental impact of concrete structures using fabric formed fibre reinforced concrete". Dr John Orr from the University of Bath will in turn visit the UCM for two months in the beginning of 2018. These exchanges were made possible with funding from a Newton Fund grant, which is based in the UK.
Professor Boshoff is an expert in fibre reinforced concrete (FRC) while Dr Orr is well known in the field of fabric formed concrete. Fabric formed concrete uses a special construction method where fabric is used to shape the concrete formwork. This makes optimised sections possible which leads to the reduced environmental impact of the structural members. The collaboration is about combining FRC with fabric formed concrete to realise an even better product. Some small scale characterising tests were done during Prof Boshoff's visit and large scale tests are planned at Stellenbosch University during the visit of Dr Orr.
In a developing country, new construction methods which save material, can contribute significantly to infrastructure development. This collaboration will therefore aim to have a significant impact on the South African research community and the construction industry. This aligns well with the National Development Plan which focuses on the stimulation of the economy by, amongst others, building infrastructure.
Stellenbosch University and the University of Bath are official key partners and workshops, held at both institutions and funded by the Universities, set the groundwork that led to this successful funding application.
Photo: Prof Billy Boshoff at Bath University; Small scale characterisation tests