Our research facilities

CVEN research facilities

Our postgraduate students and researchers can immerse themselves in their research, surrounded by supportive peers and passionate academics and with access to fantastic UNSW facilities. Some of our facilities are listed below:

The Randwick Heavy Structural Laboratory

The Randwick Heavy Structural Laboratory at UNSW King St campus, and the Materials Research Laboratory and Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories, collectively known as the Infrastructure Laboratories, support the research of the School’s Centre for Infrastructure Engineering and Safety (CIES), while the Water Research and Water Quality Laboratories support key research in the School’s Water Research Centre. The laboratories also provide extensive support for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning.

randwick heavy structure lab

Infrastructure Laboratories

The structures and materials laboratories support the research of academic staff, and postgraduate and undergraduate students involved in experimental research on various aspects of Structural Engineering. The laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art servo-controlled hydraulic actuators and universal testing machines. The laboratories maintain a capacity for high load testing, ranging from 10 kN to 5000 kN. Strength testing is often combined with X-Ray measuring of laboratory specimens under load, pioneered by CIES researchers, enabling improved understanding at the materials level and for the development of refined, mechanically based, structural models.

Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories

The Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories within the School contain a diverse range of conventional soil, rock and asphalt testing equipment, along with specialist equipment used primarily to support the School’s research. Notable inclusions are modified triaxial cells, pressure plates and an oedometer for testing unsaturated soils at normal and elevated temperatures, rotating cylinder and a specialist pin-hole apparatus for testing erosion of soils, ring shear apparatus, a large shear box and high pressure triaxial cells for testing gravel, rock and sands undergoing particle crushing, as well as an asphalt testing laboratory. Recent additions are the calibration chamber for conducting cone penetration tests in unsaturated soils and the design and construction of a Lateral Earth Pressure testing rig to assist with research on unsaturated soil‑retaining wall interaction; as well as a high performance thermal imaging camera to research progressive development of instability and failure in soil and rock samples.

The Water Quality Laboratories

The Water Quality Laboratories (WQL) include specialist laboratories for chemical and microbial analysis, pilot hall facilities for large scale bioreactor studies, a radiation laboratory for isotope studies and an olfactory laboratory for odour characterisation. They contain a wide range of analytical instruments for the chemical, microbial and physical analysis of environmental samples from water, wastewater, waste and the atmosphere. These include gas chromatograph coupled with a tandem mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS), high pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS/MS), inductively coupled plasma-atomic emissions spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Specialised equipment includes an olfactory-GC-MS for odorant characterisation coupled with thermal desorption (TD) for gas sample pre-concentration and odorant characterisation and UV-VIS and fluorescence spectrophotometers for spectral analysis of samples.

water lab

UNSW Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre including the DOC Labor Liquid Chromatography

WRC staff also have access and expertise in equipment held and managed by the UNSW Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre including the DOC Labor Liquid Chromatography – Trace Organic Carbon Detector (LC-OCD). Speciation and trace analysis of total carbon and nitrogen in water samples, such as drinking water, is available using the LC-OCD. The system uses size-exclusion chromatography to separate classes of dissolved organic materials (such as humic acids) then uses a catalysed UV oxidation to measure low levels of total carbon in the eluent. For more information visit Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre website.

UNSW Odour Laboratory

The UNSW Odour Laboratory is a research group within the School’s UNSW Water Research Centre. The laboratory is a leading edge facility that specialises in interdisciplinary research and training for the assessment and management of odour and gaseous emissions. The odour research laboratory was established in 1991.The Odour Laboratory provides specialist olfactory and chemical analysis for the characterisation of odorous and gaseous emissions from point and area sources. The laboratory attracts funding from a mixture of competitive CAT1 research grants (ARC,CRC) supported by applied research from government agencies, industry associations (WERF) and utilities. For more information please visit Odour Lab website.

The Water Research Laboratory Manly Vale

The hydraulics laboratories at WRL are the largest and most comprehensive in Australia. The Water Research Laboratory occupies 4 ha of land immediately downstream of Manly Dam, and has 4 fully equipped laboratories for research and specialist consulting studies. The laboratories contain a variety of standard facilities in addition to open space, which is used for the construction of large scale physical models. For more information please visit WRL website.

WRL lab

The Travel Choice Simulation Laboratory (TRACSLab)

Supported by the ARC Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facility (LIEF) 2013 grant, the TRAvel Choice Simulation LABoratory, or TRACSLab, is a world-first in transportation visualisation. This laboratory allows researchers to study travel choice and inter-dependent behavioural characteristics by incorporating group interactions. For more information please visit rCITI website.