A PolyU research team led by Ir Prof. Xia Yong, Associate Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), will help establish a new national field scientific observation and research station for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), in another key engagement by PolyU in important national scientific projects.


For the first time, the Ministry of Science and Technology approved three national observation and research stations in transportation areas in October, which includes the mega bridge station.


The new HZMB research station will focus on monitoring and researching in the following areas: material corrosion in the marine environment, the ocean environment and hydraulics, and structural safety. In specific, the PolyU team will explore structural safety monitoring and condition assessment of sea-crossing bridges.


The growing number of super-long sea-crossing bridges are critical to the economy of highly urbanized coastal cities. But these bridges are subject to adverse events like typhoons or earthquakes, while also exposed to the harsh and corrosive marine environment – thus undermining bridge safety. There is therefore a growing need for timely understanding and assessment of the structural condition of such bridges, as well as the provision of cost-effective maintenance strategies.


The PolyU team from CEE, which also includes Prof. Zhu Songye and Dr Dong You, will collaborate with other counterparts of the station, to collect real-time data, assess and predict the in-service condition of the bridge, and develop advanced technologies for intelligent operation and maintenance of large-scale bridges.


“The structural health monitoring group of CEE has a long historical legacy and reputation in the area,” said Prof. Xia. “The group’s research has been applied to numerous landmark structures including the Tsing Ma Bridge, Canton Tower and Shanghai Tower. The HZMB is a new example.”


Another research focus of the PolyU mega bridge station team will be devising cost-effective bridge maintenance strategies based on real-time safety condition data, Prof. Xia said.


“Real-time structural health monitoring is a cutting-edge technology of civil infrastructure,” he explained. “By installing a sensor network on a bridge, we can collect the load, environment, and response data of the structure, which in turn enables us to assess its safety condition.”


The HZMB station is led by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority. Other collaborating research counterparts include the CCCC Fourth Harbour Engineering Research Institute and Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute. Preparatory work for acquiring the Ministry of Science and Technology’s approval started more than two years ago.


The ministry started setting up national field scientific observation and research stations since the late 1990s, initially focused on ecology, special environments, geophysics and materials corrosion, and expanding into other areas since then. The stations form part of China’s national technology innovation infrastructure.