Finding the way to zero-carbon energy

German and Australian researchers are seeking opportunities in transition.

Moving away from fossil fuels is challenging, but it also presents huge opportunities. At the Energy Transition Hub, more than 140 Australian and German researchers are working together to tackle the social and technical challenges and take advantage of the trade and export opportunities.

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Inventing the ultimate suspension system

To hear tiny vibrations from half a galaxy away, first you need to filter out the Earth’s constant rumbling.

At gravitational wave observatories such as the European Advanced Virgo in Italy, scientists try to detect ripples in spacetime caused by colliding black holes and other stellar cataclysms.

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50 CubeSats to explore the thermosphere

Australian universities joined a European fleet of CubeSats to explore a little-known layer of the atmosphere.

In May 2017, the European Union led a mission called QB50 to launch a constellation of 50 mini-satellites from the International Space Station. The pocket-sized CubeSats set out to study the thermosphere, the layer of Earth’s atmosphere between 90 and 600 kilometres above the ground that carries signals from GPS and other satellites.

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Hypersonic travel

Brussels to Sydney in less than three hours.

A passenger jet could one day fly halfway around the world in just a few hours. That’s the goal of the High-speed Experimental Fly project (HEXAFLY): going beyond the supersonic realm pioneered by the now-defunct Concorde to reach hypersonic speeds more than five times as fast as sound.

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Compound interest

What happens when disaster builds on disaster

Climate change will bring hotter weather and rising seas, but what it means for natural disasters such as floods and fires is less clear.

Part of the difficulty is that such catastrophes are often “compound events” in which multiple factors combine to wreak havoc.

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3D printing carbon fibre at industrial scale

Swinburne University researchers have developed a way to bring 3D printing with carbon fibre composites to an industrial scale.

Strong, lightweight carbon fibre composites can be used to make everything from aeroplanes and high-end race cars to sports equipment, and they are in high demand.

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Sharing knowledge, fighting fires

Southern Australia and Mediterranean Europe’s common problem: bushfires

Bushfires are becoming more intense and increasing their range—so European and Australian researchers have initiated a five-year joint project to combat the threat.

“New regions are becoming affected by recurrent fires,” says Associate Professor Marc Demange from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

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A safe haven for frogs in a sea of extinctions

New Guinea is one of the only places in the world where frogs are safe from the species-destroying chytrid fungus. An international team of scientists has published a new paper that shows how to keep it that way, but they need help to carry out their plan.

The chytrid fungus has wiped out more than 90 frog species around the world, and it’s driving hundreds more towards extinction. New Guinea – the world’s largest tropical island, and home to 6% of all known frog species – is one of the last remaining refuges from the deadly infection.

A team of scientists led by researchers from Macquarie University and the University of New England in Australia think they know how to keep the island’s frogs safe, but they need support to establish a long-term program of monitoring and conservation.

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Earth recycles ocean floor into diamonds

Most diamonds are made of cooked seabed.

The diamond on your finger is most likely made of recycled seabed cooked deep in the Earth.

Traces of salt trapped in many diamonds show the stones are formed from ancient seabeds that became buried deep beneath the Earth’s crust, according to new research led by Macquarie University geoscientists.

Most diamonds found at the Earth’s surface are formed this way; others are created by crystallization of melts deep in the mantle.

In experiments recreating the extreme pressures and temperatures found 200 kilometres underground, Dr Michael Förster, Professor Stephen Foley, Dr Olivier Alard, and colleagues at Goethe Universität and Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Germany, have demonstrated that seawater in sediment from the bottom of the ocean reacts in the right way to produce the balance of salts found in diamond.

The study, published in Science Advances, settles a long-standing question about the formation of diamonds. “There was a theory that the salts trapped inside diamonds came from marine seawater, but couldn’t be tested,” says lead author Michael. “Our research showed that they came from marine sediment.”

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