Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi
Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi received her PhD on sustainable cementitious materials from the University of Melbourne in 2011. She worked in the international technology company AspenTech for four years (2011-2015), where she gained experience in industry consultation and training. Three years of postdoctoral research at the Infrastructure Engineering Department, University of Melbourne (2015-2018) followed before joining CIES. Ailar’s research examines the chemistry of materials to develop innovative construction elements with attractive properties. She is also investigating waste management and resource recovering strategies towards circular economy in civil and construction projects.
Initially interested in chemical engineering, Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi’s PhD research shaped her current focus on innovative construction materials and techniques. Her shift to civil and environmental engineering has allowed her research to become more multi-disciplinary and collaborative.
“The most innovative way I can approach my research is to look at the problem from different angles,” she reflects. “Rather than just focusing on what I already know, I want to know how others see the problem, how other disciplines are approaching it. In this way, new methods, new solutions appear. Useful, important, but also very interesting for me. Multi-disciplinary university structures allow for increased communication, visibility and opportunities for academics to work in less isolated ways.”
For the last 4 years, Ailar has been working with a structural materials group she led under an ARC Linkage program to uptake landfilling wastes and convert them to valuable products.
Ailar hopes to create a waste management research network where the adaptable applications of novel materials are investigated through research connections with other engineering disciplines: water, structural and geotechnical. “The use of sustainable materials in construction can also be extended to other civil applications such as water treatment technologies and soil stabilisation methods, so it is beneficial and interesting to find mutual interest between disciplines.”
She also works with industry on the many innovative applications of sustainable construction materials. These materials can utilise recycled waste products, creating cheaper, more durable materials. Also, they can be designed to provide insulation, retard fire and dampen noise. In fact, sustainable materials and technologies research has the potential to revolutionise the civil engineering and construction industries. Not only does it represent green innovation in its use of waste materials, but it can transform the affordability of our built environment.
“We may have started with concretes, but sustainable alternatives have evolved into more complicated composites, with more load-bearing construction potential. There is tremendous growth in its applications for fire-resistant high-rise buildings and sound dampening road barriers”, both so important in a city like Sydney where high-rise buildings sprout like seedlings and the noise of traffic and construction threatens liveability.
Improved performance of material durability, tensile and compressive strength, dead load, bonding, shrinkage and elasticity are among many other properties and potentials of sustainable construction materials. Their use is on the cusp of becoming widespread, as their appeal and acceptance, based on their obvious benefits, continues to grow.
“Generally, I hope that my research will lead to an increase in the resilience of construction materials for buildings, pavements and roads while decreasing their negative environmental impact.”