Human Well-Being

Tailored Solid-Liquid Composite for Enhanced Comfort in Orthotic Insoles

Plantar foot pain is often the result of an uneven distribution of pressure, causing high stress and large tissue strains in localised areas. In severe cases, the damage caused by these stresses can lead to tissue breakdown and ulceration. Prescribed orthotics are generally topologically customised to give complete contact with the plantar surface. This approach aims to even out the pressure distribution and reduce peak stresses. The plantar topology is usually measured when the patient is standing. This approach does not address dynamic effects or active pressure redistribution. A solid-liquid composite (SLC) is a fluid-impregnated cellular structure and combines tailored structural stiffness and graded permeability. This provides a responsive functionality that can passively redistribute pressure over the foot’s irregular topology, both statically and dynamically, to maximise user comfort. The cellular structure will be regionally tailored throughout the orthotic by varying cell size and thickness. Altering the geometry will tailor the permeability, affecting the resistance to flow and regional energy-absorbing capabilities.  

Academic leader: Dr. Tom Allen

Investigating the interaction between wave overtopping and vegetation for hybrid coastal protection

Coastal communities are facing the adverse effects of extreme weather events, including wave overtopping of coastal protection structures. To build community resilience, vegetation could be planted on the structure crest to mitigate overtopping hazards. Dam break experiments have been conducted in the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, which recreate the bore flow that occurs when a wave has overtopped a coastal structure. The experiments used real saltmarsh grass, oioi (Apodasmia similis). The effect of vegetation on hydraulic properties have been quantified. The vegetation deflection response was found to be critical in explaining key hydraulic trends.  Oioi has shown potential to mitigate hazards such as scour, pedestrian safety and coastal flooding. Future work involves validating numerical modelling methods that can simulate the fluid-structure interaction.  

Academic leader: Assoc. Prof. Mark Battley

Flame-retardant engineered wood fibre board

Wood fibreboard, which is a type of engineered wood product, has been developed to satisfy performance requirements that can meet solid wood. Medium density fibreboard (MDF) is one of the fibreboard types. Unfortunately, its material system continues to present challenges from various perspectives in contemporary times. One ongoing problem in the MDF material system is the need to mitigate the risk of fire hazards while simultaneously maintaining the mechanical integrity of the material system. Another challenge lies in adopting a formaldehyde-free binder system to produce MDF aimed at reducing environmental impacts, particularly in response to the renowned toxicity associated with formaldehyde. In this project, we opted for the use of polyamideamine-epichlorohydrin (PAE) resin as a formaldehyde-free binder and introduced casein as a fire-resistant agent to fabricate fire-resistant MDF samples. 

Academic leader: Dist. Prof. Debes Bhattacharyya

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