Dr. Amir Fam, Professor
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Innovative and Retrofitted Structures, Department of Civil Engineering, Queens University


Dr. Amir Fam sees opportunities for Ontario bioproducts when he looks at crumbling bridges and buildings. A member of Ontario’s Bioproducts A-Team, based at Queen’s University in Kingston, Dr. Fam’s research focuses on the use of fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) for reinforcement and prestressing of new concrete structures as well as for strengthening of existing concrete, masonry and metallic structures. Carbon and glass fibres are non-corrosive, non-conductive and lighter than traditional construction materials. Dr. Fam’s interest within the A-Team is to introduce and promote bio-materials as construction materials.

He is also interested in innovative systems, including FRP structurally integrated stay-in-place formwork for concrete structures such as concrete-filled FRP tubes – a system which shows promise for a number of structural applications including piles, columns, bridge piers, hydro and light poles and highway overhead sign structures.

For the past 20 years, Fam has worked with traditional FRPs. Now, however, he is also looking at the possibility of replacing chemical epoxys with bioresins such as those extracted from corn cobs, and composite fibres with natural ones– an idea with huge economic potential. Bioresins by themselves could equate to a multi-billion dollar industry. Currently industry accepts partial bioresin replacement to the level of 10-20%, but he is working towards higher levels or even complete replacement

Dr. Fam, who received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Manitoba, has conducted large scale experimental modeling of two unique bridges, each considered to be the first of its kind: the Taylor Bridge (Manitoba), using girders fully prestressed and reinforced for shear by carbon-FRP, and the Route 40 Bridge (Virginia), using concrete-filled glass-FRP tubes for piers without the need for steel rebar.

The Taylor Bridge just outside of Winnipeg is known as a “smart bridge.” Reinforced with “tendons” of non-corroding carbon fibre and fibreglass as opposed to traditional steel, the bridge can be monitored using sensors buried deep inside – and 14 years into the project, there haven’t been any problems. With no rust to wreak internal havoc, bridges built this way could last much longer before needing major maintenance. Using non-rusting composite materials as opposed to steel is critical in the Canadian climate.

Dr. Fam is also investigating the opportunity to reinforce bridge components by pouring concrete into forms made of the new materials and leaving them in place to provide the necessary structural strength. Closed FRP forms such as in tubes filled with concrete would also repel water and eliminate the need for builders to remove them following the completion of construction, saving time and money. Due to public safety concerns however, any change to structural components takes time and large scale use of Fam’s technologies is still a ways off.

Although Dr. Fam’s research is largely experimental, many companies from around the globe are calling him for continual updates. Bombardier is one major business though that is already a believer. Fam is currently involved in the building of a non-ferrous reinforced concrete monorail test track for Bombardier.

Dr. Fam, who originates from Egypt, is a member of the executive committee and the council of the International Institute for FRP in Construction and is the chair of subcommittee 440-J “FRP stay-in-place form” of the American Concrete Institute. the American Concrete Institute.

The new Ontario Biomaterials “A-Team”, assembled by Ontario Agri-Food Technologies and the Ontario Centres of Excellence is a consortium of leading scientists each with unique skills, expertise and world-class equipment in the development, processing and optimization of biomaterials. They’re the best choice for developing and processing novel and customized biomaterials.

“A-Team” members are eager to work cooperatively with each other and with industry. They are all globally recognized for their scientific expertise. They understand corporate needs - including speed of service, confidentiality and respect for corporate ownership or exclusive access to intellectual property.

queens logo
Visit Queen's Univerity Website