Getting to know our Board – Elizabeth Taylor AO

Elizabeth Taylor is the current Chair of the SmartCrete CRC Board and is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). She is a passionate and intelligent professional with a range of skills that she brings to all facets of Board activities.

Elizabeth is a civil engineer, starting her career at the Maritime Services Board where she contributed to the design and construction of marine structures. She also has a law degree, and this assists her decision making. Presently she is a consultant specialising in complex procurement and sustainment. This brings a deep understanding of the challenges of practice, the role of innovation and the complexity of decision making.

Along with her practice in engineering, Elizabeth has academic experience, including 10 years at UTS designing curriculum and co-op. She finished her academic career as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Health, Central Queensland University. She is a former Chair of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans.

Elizabeth has held a number of board leadership roles including Chair of Engineers Australia Accreditation Board, the Board of Professional Engineers Queensland, and she is presently Chair, Washington Accord, and Deputy Chair, Governing Group, International Engineering Alliance. She was Chair of Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief (RedR) Australia and of RedR International. She relaxes playing with the grandchildren, and “thundering” the lanes in basketball 2 nights a week.

Elizabeth is particularly passionate about and advocates for diversity and has written academic papers on engineering culture. Her appreciation for complexity and her strong background in engineering, academia and governance support Elizabeth to make decisions with integrity and in the best interests of the company.

APozA creates pathway for sustainable new entrants for cementitious materials in concrete through new standard

Australian Pozzolan Association (APozA)

The Australian Pozzolan Association (APozA) is a membership group with a vested interest in creating pathways for Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCM’s), specifically manufactured pozzolans. The Association was established in 2018 to develop, promote and advance the use of pozzolanic materials in the construction industry through the development of Standards and creating avenues into a wide range of relevant materials markets. APozA also funds research and hosts various educational forums to promote a greater understanding of these valuable pozzolan resources.

Remarkably and in an unprecedented timeframe, during late 2019, the Australasian Pozzolan Association received approval from Standards Australia to develop a new Standard through the Committee BD-031, Supplementary Cementitious Materials. This new Standard, Supplementary Cementitious Materials Part 4: Pozzolans – Manufactured, will be complimentary to the existing series AS 3582 Part 1: Fly ash, Part 2: Slag—Ground granulated blast-furnace and Part 3: Amorphous silica. This new Standard uses a similar structure. Existing international and national standards as well as published research and testing programs were considered in the development process by APozA.

The creation of this Standard encourages resource efficiency within a circular economy. It aims to provide market confidence by facilitating the use of manufactured pozzolans using an accepted framework. Natural pozzolans are well understood, but there is an emerging class of manufactured pozzolans arising from new resources, such as non-metallurgical and mineral processing industries. This Standard will allow these new sources to demonstrate capability for use as a SCM in concrete for the construction industry.

Getting to know our Board – Gunilla Burrowes

Gunilla Burrowes is a dedicated and committed board member who brings a wealth of business experience and has held several director and board roles in her career.

As an engineer by trade, and based in Newcastle, a city founded on engineering, Gunilla has been an angel investor for 15 years, providing financial backing for entrepreneurs starting a new business. Her involvement with The Hunter Innovation Ecosystem in particular means that she brings knowledge of what start-up’s need and the commercialisation journey required for success.

Gunilla started her own successful company in underwater technology 22 years ago. From a start-up, growth was achieved through acquisition as well as organic growth and as a co-founder Gunilla has overseen the development of partnerships, products and markets and understands the financial needs of business.

As a director for Blue Economy CRC, one of the biggest CRCs in Australia, Gunilla is extremely familiar with governance, collaborative research and IP and commercialisation also in a CRC with charitable status. She is a member of the Impact and Investment Committee (IIC) and brings operational and technical know-how to the SmartCrete CRC board as she can think laterally to understand the risks involved in technical projects. Her engineering background means she understands how to work as a team and build meaningful connections but also how to identify and solve problems.

Find out more about the SmartCrete CRC Board here

New CEO to guide the next exciting stage of development of the SmartCrete CRC

SmartCrete CRC is delighted to announce the appointment of Clare (Rutherford) Tubolets as our new CEO commencing on Monday 2nd May 2022.

Clare brings a unique set of skills to SmartCrete CRC having extensive experience in collaborative roles in government, university and industry including current experience in grants management, research and CRC operations.

Clare’s most recent role as Chief Operating Officer with the Food Agility CRC, demonstrated her strong networking and people management skills. She has supported the securing of $86 million in government and industry investment (and $127m of in-kind support) to run research projects to improve the sustainability, productivity and profitability of Australia’s food supply chain.

The SmartCrete CRC Board identified the alignment of the competencies Clare offers as being fundamental to the next stage of development for SmartCrete, as it transitions to implementation of strategic initiatives such as the Decarbonisation Pathways report, impact assessment and reporting on the existing research program and the evolution of the path to market for commercialisation of research outcomes.

SmartCrete CRC received $21m funding in March 2020 under the CRC Round 21 grant funding and has now secured 48 partners, approved and commenced 16 projects, covered 44 of our 91 milestones and invested $14m in research projects into concrete to improve engineered solutions, asset management and sustainability.

Elizabeth Taylor
SmartCrete CRC Chair

Stephen Harmer
Acting CEO

SmartCrete CRC looking to secure projects in Engineered Solutions and Asset Management

In addressing its vision to ensure the long-term viability of vital concrete infrastructure, SmartCrete CRC will continue to facilitate the creation of networks between the concrete industry and research providers to address the research requirements that have been identified. SmartCrete CRC is ready to consider relevant projects that support key innovation areas. While we have made substantial progress in Sustainability, SmartCrete CRC is also interested in developing projects on Engineered Solutions and Asset Management which are part of our core themes as a collaborative research centre. In addition, the organisation has funding available to realise these projects.

Engineered Solutions may include projects on innovative structural or construction system, product development and application of engineering solutions to improve productivity and the service life of concrete structures, while Asset Management may be related to cost reduction, durability of materials or creating methodology to predict asset life span. If you have a project idea that addresses an industry problem area and a preferred commercial partner to work with, please submit your idea below.

Do you have an idea related to concrete? Submit your idea here.

For further information please do no hesitate to contact Dr Vute Sirivivatnanon:

Student Spotlight – Alvaro Amezquita Vaca, RMIT

As SmartCrete continues to announce various projects we will develop a profile on university students to showcase the projects they are working on and how they align with SmartCrete objectives and the concrete industry.

We are delighted to publish our very first student profile on Alvaro Amezquita Vaca from RMIT.

We talked to Alvaro about the project he is currently working on and how it is relevant to the concrete world.

Alvaro, tell us a bit about yourself. What is your career background, education, hobbies and interests?

I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia My grandfather was a great civil engineer and I decided to follow his legacy and study bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at Escuela Colombiana de Ingenieria Julio Garavito in Bogotá, Colombia. I gained experience working as an Assistant Engineer and was later promoted to Resident Engineer. I then travelled to Australia where I completed my master’s degree in Civil Engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne. I am currently completing a PhD in Civil Engineering under the supervision of Professor Rebecca Gravina. This program allows me to deepen my knowledge and learn how engineering is practised in Australia. When I’m not working on the PhD, I enjoy running, reading historical novels, and travelling.

Please describe the project you’re working on and when you joined.

Initially, I joined RMIT in 2019 when I started my master’s degree. Once I finished it, I continued my studies with the PhD which I have been doing since August 2021. My study is part of the SmartCrete CRC research program. The project is called FTP2 – Recycled Waste in Concrete for Municipal Applications. I’m investigating how to reuse domestic and industrial waste as raw materials to develop concrete with recycled material content suitable for municipal pavement applications.

What are the objectives for this project, including timing and milestones?

In total, the project must be completed in 3 years. It focuses on the requalification of the waste material problem by finding alternative solutions in the concrete construction industry. The project will deliver a mix ensuring green star rating and satisfactory performance in terms of workability, mechanical properties, and durability.

What has your success to date been?

Perseverance and discipline have been what has led me to accomplish many achievements. Regarding the project, I am still in the early stages, but the testing plan has been already set up and will begin soon.

What have been the challenges?

At the moment, the biggest challenge has been the logistics required for the project’s testing plan. Many different samples and tests are required, as well as gathering all the materials so it’s ready for use.

What do you enjoy most about this project?

What I enjoy the most is that I am expanding my knowledge of concrete, not only theoretically, but the chance to go to the laboratory and test different mix designs. Also, I have had the opportunity to engage in activities I have not done before, such as setting up the testing plan for the project. In general, undertaking a PhD is challenging. However, I’m excited that I’m building the necessary skills to become an independent researcher.

Do you have opportunities to connect with other students who are engaging in similar projects either with SmartCrete or elsewhere?

Yes, I have had the opportunity to connect with another doctoral student who is also doing their research in concrete. This has been great because I can learn a bit about their work as well as share experiences that can enrich our research.

What does this project mean to the concrete world and the impact on concrete research?

I’m looking forward to the results that I will obtain from this research because I’m convinced that it will positively impact the concrete industry. This research will show that domestic and industrial waste as concrete aggregates is feasible for municipal pavement applications. The delivered mix will not only have excellent workability, mechanical and durability performance; it will also have environmental advantages. Finding a different use for these types of residues will help support a circular economy.

SmartCrete CRC secures a further eight projects to add to growing portfolio

SmartCrete CRC is excited to announce that eight new projects with a total cash value of $6.2m have been approved. These projects bring the total investment in concrete research to $14m in cash by SmartCrete CRC over the first twenty-one months of operation.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

Signed Agreements and Board supported projects have now approved research projects which covers forty-four of the Grant agreement milestones across our core themes Engineered Solutions, Asset Management and Sustainability.

In line with SmartCrete CRC’s commitment to deliver lower carbon cement and concrete, a number of strategic projects have been initiated to address the research requirements and leverage the eight innovation areas identified in the VDZ report – Decarbonisation Pathways for the Australian Cement and Concrete Sector ¹ 

“This is an exciting time for SmartCrete CRC and we are delighted that the concrete industry has taken steps to collaborate with us to ensure the long-term viability of concrete infrastructure in Australia”.
Stephen Harmer, Acting CEO, SmartCrete CRC.

If you have project ideas that provide thought leadership and innovation and would like to develop these with SmartCrete CRC, please submit your idea through our website.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

Stephen Harmer
Mobile: 0418407852

  1. VDZ is a world-renowned research centre, providing practical and quality-oriented joint research and services in the field of cement and concrete.

SmartCrete CRC calls out for zero carbon project ideas

The Australian cement and concrete industry have declared its ambition to deliver net zero carbon cement and concrete by 2050. In line with this, SmartCrete CRC is committed to deliver lower carbon cement and concrete which will require significant financial investment to research, pilot and adopt a range of technologies.

The VDZ report “Decarbonisation Pathways for the Australian Cement and Concrete Sector” released in October 2021,(1) demonstrates that this outcome can be achieved with the assistance of the full value chain. SmartCrete CRC was delighted to contribute to this report to better understand the technologies and practices necessary to decarbonise Australian cement and concrete.(2) To assist with understanding the content of the document the reports lead authors, Dr Martin Schneider and Dr Christoph Müller, presented at a webinar hosted by SmartCrete CRC on the 1st December 2021. In this webinar, the ambitions for the industry were presented along with the research and innovation areas that need to be explored to achieve these ambitions.

Click here to view the report and webinar

In addressing its vision to ensure the long-term viability of vital concrete infrastructure, SmartCrete CRC will continue to facilitate the creation of networks between the concrete industry, SME’s and research providers to address the research requirements that have been identified. SmartCrete CRC is ready to consider relevant projects that support key innovation areas. In addition, the organisation has funding available to realise these projects and can match funding for research by partners. From the eight pathways mentioned in the report, SmartCrete CRC will focus on the following five areas: 

•    Innovation through design and construction
•    Further innovation in concrete
•    Increased use of supplementary cementitious materials in concrete
•    New CO2 efficient cements
•    Accounting for concrete to uptake CO2 (recarbonation)

If you have project ideas that provide thought leadership and innovation and would like to develop these with SmartCrete CRC, please submit your idea through our website

Would you like to join SmartCrete as a partner and participate in our research program? Please get in touch through our website:

Stephen Harmer
Mobile: 0418407852

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

1. VDZ is a world-renowned research centre, providing practical and quality-oriented joint research and services in the field of cement and concrete. 
2. Financial and in-kind contributions have been provided by the Cement Industry Federation, Cement, Concrete and Aggregates Australia, SmartCrete CRC and the RACE for 2030 CRC

SmartCrete to fund key projects with university partners

In partnership with Macquarie University, Western Sydney University and Swinburne University of Technology, SmartCrete CRC has announced funding for two different projects that will allow research into improving productivity in concrete infrastructure.

This funding will focus on areas such as engineered solutions, asset management and sustainability which are core themes that we have identified to address problems faced by the concrete sector.

The first project is centred around the use of recycled waste from latex paint to produce polymer modified concrete. This initiative, led by Dr Salwan Al-Assafi at Paintback will endeavour to reduce cost by converting unused paint into viable product with environmental and economic benefits. Dr Shima Taheri, Associate Professor Sorn Vimonsatit and Professor Simon Clark, from Macquarie University’s School of Engineering are also working on this project in collaboration with Western Sydney University and Swinburne University of Technology.

“This regenerative project will contribute significantly to the circular economy, through the repurposing of waste product into a value supply stream for the building industry,” said Professor Simon Clark. “By utilising unwanted latex paint in this manner and converting it into an effective concrete solution will see a reduction in raw material costs, boasting both a strong economic and environmental benefit for the wider industry.”

The second project led by Dr Heriberto Bustamante of Sydney Water and including industry partner Melbourne Water, will research the development of a photonic sensor integrator to monitor and examine the health of concrete sewer pipes. Also leading this project, Dr Martin Ams and Professor Michael Withford of Macquarie University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, will assist in the reduction of maintenance costs and minimise disruption to local communities, to extend the life of concrete sewer structures.

SmartCrete CRC is delighted to partner with these universities on these key projects and are excited to see the benefits it will provide in its application to concrete infrastructure.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

SmartCrete CRC, CCAA & Decarbonisation

CCAA is the peak industry body for the heavy construction materials Industry in Australia and represents members operating cement manufacturing and distribution facilities, concrete batching plants, hard rock quarries and sand and gravel extraction operations throughout the nation. CCAA membership covers over 80% of the $15 billion heavy construction materials industry in Australia.

SmartCrete is proud to have CCAA as a core partner, given its focus on government and broader stakeholder advocacy; assistance to building and construction industry professionals; development of market applications; and technical and research expertise.

The ambitions for the concrete industry shared by SmartCrete CRC and CCAA include demonstrating concrete’s sustainability credentials, encouraging collaboration and networking, and supplying and sharing information. In support of the industry’s target to deliver net zero carbon cement and concrete to Australian society by 2050, CCAA and SmartCrete have both outlined their commitment to work towards decarbonisation by contributing to the new independent report developed by VDZ(1) called The Decarbonisation Pathways Report. The report identifies eight pathways and key future research opportunities to achieve this decarbonisation goal.

Click here for more information about decarbonisation pathways.

SmartCrete CRC look forward to their continued collaboration with CCAA as we develop engagement plans to better understand the technologies and practices needed to decarbonise Australian cement and concrete.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

1.VDZ is a world-renowned research centre, providing practical and quality-oriented joint research and services in the field of cement and concrete.