Tag Archives: industry

Distilling value from industrial waste

Hot and salty water is a common by-product of industries such as textiles, food and dairy production. But new technology that allows this water to be purified, collected and re-used on site has been developed by Victorian scientists.

Their compact module, smaller than the size of a human, can transform a wasteful industrial operation into an efficient process that recycles energy, water and materials.

“We’ve calculated that our module can reduce water use by more than 90 per cent in some industrial settings,” Professor Mikel Duke says.

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Making plastics, mining, and engineering

2014 ATSE Clunies Ross Medals

John Nutt helped design and analyse the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House early in a career that saw him pioneer the use of computers in engineering, and contribute to the first fire code for buildings.

Kevin Galvin’s invention of the Reflux Classifier has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits to the Australian economy, and revolutionised mineral processing around the world. It maximises mineral recovery by improving the recovery of fine, but still valuable, particles. Continue reading Making plastics, mining, and engineering

Star-shaped polymers boost engine performance

New lubricants containing star-shaped polymers have hit the market, thanks to Australian polymer technology. Lubrizol Corporation has launched the first commercial products developed using CSIRO’s Reversible Addition Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) polymer synthesis process.

Asteric ™ Viscosity Modifiers are tailor-made star-shaped polymers made possible by RAFT Credit: Lubrizol
Asteric ™ Viscosity Modifiers are tailor-made star-shaped polymers made possible by RAFT Credit: Lubrizol

CSIRO chemist Dr Ezio Rizzardo says the RAFT process allows much greater flexibility and potential for polymer synthesis, compared with conventional methods. “Conventional polymerisation is a relatively simple process with two ingredients: large amounts of monomer and a small amount of an initiating agent. You apply heat; a chain reaction starts and runs to completion, making polymer chains that can have widely varying lengths.”
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Putting a cap on fatigue

Drivers of trucks, dozers, graders and excavators at Australian mines could soon be saved from the risks of fatigue by their headgear.

Putting a cap on fatigue
The SmartCap protects against fatigue. Credit: CRC Mining

Incidents on mine sites caused by tiredness are a significant cause of injuries and deaths, and cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost production and accidents each year. So Dr Daniel Bongers at the Cooperative Research Centre for Mining (CRCMining) in Brisbane has invented a SmartCap, fitted with sophisticated sensors which can “read” the brain’s nerve activity through hair and detect the level of fatigue of the wearer.

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Cementing a greener future

Making cement is the third largest source of carbon emissions in the world after the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation—but the Australian roads of the future could be paved with cement that is made in a process that generates less than half the carbon emissions of traditional methods.

Green cement is now becoming part of Victoria’s roads. Credit: Australian Synchrotron.
Green cement is now becoming part of Victoria’s roads. Credit: Australian Synchrotron.

Each year, the world produces about 12 billion tonnes of concrete and about 1.6 billion tonnes of its key ingredient, Portland cement, which is generated by breaking calcium carbonate into carbon dioxide and calcium oxide.

This produces some 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide—so the Geopolymer and Mineral Processing Group (GMPG) at the University of Melbourne, now led by Dr John Provis, went looking for a lower carbon way of making cement.

They have now developed binders and concretes based on a low-CO2 aluminosilicate compounds called geopolymers.

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Dairy stem cells a world first

Embryonic stem cells from cattle can now be stored in mass in the laboratory, paving the way for advanced breeding developments in dairy cattle and other livestock.

These new ways of efficiently isolating and maintaining cells provide scientists from Australia’s Dairy Cooperative Research Centre with the raw materials to investigate a range of stem cell applications.

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