Mapping reefs with drones; robots destroying crown-of-thorns starfish; coral as a rain-maker; and more—researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating new technologies to protect Australia’s reefs.
While researching the performance of the optical fibres that are the backbone of telecommunications and the internet, Tanya Monro realised that they could do much more.
She’s invented a new class of hollow or holey fibres using soft glass, which have thousands of applications as sensors: detecting metal fatigue in aircraft wings and other structures; monitoring contamination in water supplies; and a smart bung that monitors wine development while it’s still in the barrel.
Coastal land clearing has led to poor water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and threats to reef animals, according to the first data providing evidence of the damage.
The Water Quality and Ecosystem Health research team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science has collected 20 years of data, which shows the connection between high rates of land clearing and reduced reef water quality in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Our analyses show that water quality in the lagoon dropped significantly during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period that coincided with very high rates of vegetation clearing on land adjacent to rivers,” says research team leader, Britta Schaffelke.
A radical flotation technology has earned Australia over $4 billion in mineral exports each year by improving mineral particle recovery from wastewater.
Chemical engineer Graeme Jameson, AO, of the University of Newcastle, developed the technology, which was first used in mineral processing plants and is now being applied to other industrial practices.
Detection of dangerous water-borne pathogens will soon be much easier, thanks to advances using microfluidic systems developed at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), the Victorian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).
Microfluidics deals with the control and manipulation of fluids in tiny, constrained volumes, in order to perform scientific tasks. The advantages in such systems centre around the cost and effort savings associated with miniaturisation and automation. Continue reading Small devices to fight a big disease→