UTAR wins silver in ITEX 2011

Ingenious use of used tyres with lightweight concrete infill won Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) a silver prize in the 22 nd International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX) held in Kuala Lumpur from 20 to 22 May 2011.

ITEX 2011, organised by Malaysian Invention and Design Society and supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, served as a platform for universities, research institutions, corporations and individuals to showcase more than 700 inventions to prospective investors for commercialisation. The exhibition attracted participants and visitors from 14 countries, which were Brunei, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The winning UTAR team, which comprised Associate Professor Dr Ir Low Kaw Sai, who led the team, Associate Professor Dr Tioh Ngee Hing and Lecturer Ng Soon Ching from the Faculty of Engineering and Science submitted their brainchild entitled 'Interconnected Used-Tyres with Lightweight Concrete Infill Buoyant System to Support Heavy Construction over Soft Ground', which they had patented with Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO), and won a silver prize in the exhibition.

The winning entry demonstrated that lightweight concrete is able to create a platform with a larger area than one constructed with the same weight of ordinary concrete. Such light weight platform is therefore suitable for use over soft ground to bear external load such as highway embankment. The increased platform area provides the same or better distribution of vertical stress (due to the same load); and hence effectively arrest differential settlement, which often adversely affects the ground and the structures built upon it. Its light weight also provides buoyancy that can counterbalance to reduce the vertical load due to a structure (such as embankment), therefore reducing the extent of settlement. A notable eco-friendly feature of the construction method is the stuffing of plastic bottles and other lightweight wastes in used tyres which are fastened with polystyrene ropes as a layer in the light core of the platform.

"Besides using the lightweight platform to support heavy embankments over soft ground, it can simply be turned into a pontoon, floating jetty and wave breaker, or a base layer to cushion sand fills of land reclamation," said Dr Low, adding that the method, if popularised, would be able to 'absorb' and reuse huge volumes of wastes, making the construction method green and sustainable.

According to Dr Low, the team's exhibit attracted a lot of interest among the visitors including local and foreign engineers and contractors. He said this could be due to the easily understood fact that increased base area and buoyancy can significantly curtail differential settlement which almost always occurs in all soft grounds.

Earlier, the same invention won the second runner-up prize in the category of postgraduate poster presentation in the Shell Inter-Varsity Student Paper Presentation Contest on 5 April 2011.

Construction method of lightweight platform

Dr.Low (second from right) explaining to visitors at ITEX 2011

The winning team at the Shell Competition (from left : Dr Tioh, Dr Low and Mr Ng)


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