Tag Archives: water

Faster flash flood warnings

Flash flooding, brought on by sudden torrential rain, killed dozens of people in Australia in 2011. Because of their very nature, it has been difficult to provide effective warnings. And that is a significant gap in Australia’s natural disaster management, according to the submission of RMIT University’s Centre for Risk and Community Safety to the 2011 Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry.

Technology could mean more effective warnings against flash flooding, like the kind that hit Toowoomba, Queensland in January 2011. Credit: KingBob.net
Technology could mean more effective warnings against flash flooding, like the kind that hit Toowoomba, Queensland in January 2011. Credit: KingBob.net

We now have the technology to deliver such warnings, says director of the Centre, Prof John Handmer. “But using it would raise issues about how quickly both the authorities and people at risk are prepared to make critical decisions when they receive the information.”

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Fresh Science 2010

Each year we identify early-career scientists with a discovery and bring them to Melbourne for a communication boot camp. Here are some of their stories.

More at www.freshscience.org.au

Print your own lasers, lights and TV screens

Print your own lasers, lights and TV screens
Jacek Jasieniak sprinkling quantum dots. Credit: Jacek Jasieniak

Imagine printing your own room lighting, lasers, or solar cells from inks you buy at the local newsagent. Jacek Jasieniak and colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Padua in Italy, have developed liquid inks based on quantum dots that can be used to print such devices and in the first demonstration of their technology have produced tiny lasers. Quantum dots are made of semiconductor material grown as nanometre-sized crystals, around a millionth of a millimetre in diameter. The laser colour they produce can be selectively tuned by varying their size.

Cling wrap captures CO2
Colin Scholes operates a test rig for his carbon capture membrane. Credit: CO2 CRC

Cling wrap captures CO2

High tech cling wraps that ‘sieve out’ carbon dioxide from waste gases can help save the world, says Melbourne University chemical engineer, Colin Scholes who developed the technology. The membranes can be fitted to existing chimneys where they capture CO2 for removal and storage. Not only are the new membranes efficient, they are also relatively cheap to produce. They are already being tested on brown coal power stations in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, Colin says. “We are hoping these membranes will cut emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent.”

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Building water sensitive cities

water4a_300x180Staff in a Monash University-led project, called Water Sensitive Cities, believe the time is right for a bold idea that could produce 20 to 30 per cent of Melbourne’s future water needs.

Annually, almost as much stormwater falls on Melbourne as its citizens use, but only a fraction is captured and reused. Billions of litres of stormwater literally go down the drain and into Port Phillip Bay, degrading the ecological health of Melbourne streams and the bay.

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Algae that make biofuels and hydrogen

IMB_Ben_with_algaeAn Australian researcher is leading an international team of scientists developing a clean source of energy from microalgae. The team have developed one algae that not only makes oil for biodiesel production but also generates hydrogen. Commercial hydrogen production uses fossil fuels and produces carbon dioxide.

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Understanding how Indigenous people value rivers

Long-necked turtles are a favoured food source for Aboriginal people in northern Australia’s Daly River region. Credit: CSIRO Darwin
Long-necked turtles are a favoured food source for Aboriginal people in northern Australia’s Daly River region. Credit: CSIRO Darwin

Indigenous people value rivers in many ways. Rivers provide bush foods and medicines, they are part of a culturally significant landscape, and have the potential to sustain future water-related businesses and employment.

So it’s important to know what impact changing river flow patterns and water allocations could have on Indigenous communities.

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Erosion and dams threaten barramundi and prawn fisheries

Barramundi caught at Shady Camp freshwater in Northern Territory. Credit: Marcus Finn
Barramundi caught at Shady Camp freshwater in Northern Territory. Credit: Marcus Finn

Kilometre-wide erosion gullies eating their way across Australia’s northern landscape are proving likely culprits as the main source of the sediments that are flushed into the Gulf of Carpentaria each year, possibly smothering prawn and barramundi breeding and rearing habitats.

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