Eyes, hearts, bionic spines—partners in new health technologies

Across America lives have been improved by Australian inventions—the cervical cancer vaccine, the bionic eye, gum that repairs tooth decay. What’s next?

Extended wear contact lenses for healthier eyes

Some 30 million Americans use contact lenses. Today they can wear a single pair for up to 30 consecutive days and nights, safely and comfortably thanks to the work of CIBA Vision and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

Contact lenses were once rigid and had to be taken out every night. In 1991, a team of researchers from CSIRO, the University of New South Wales, and the Vision Cooperative Research Centre joined forces with CIBA Vision in the US, and Novartis in Switzerland, to create a better contact lens.

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Building port cities

Port cities can be lively, vibrant hives of activity—the hub of a nation’s economic health—if they’re planned well.

Indonesia’s busiest port, Tanjung Priok, has roughly two and a half times the container traffic as the Port of Melbourne. But it also has a reputation as one of the least efficient ports in Asia. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has recognised the need to transform the nation’s ports and plans to develop 24 new ports by 2019. One recently established, state-of-theart port is Teluk Lamong in Surabaya.

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Lasers and a window in a ship’s hull: scientists work to improve shipping efficiency

Every shipping manager wages an endless battle against fouling—the bacteria, seaweed, barnacles and other marine life that take residence on the hull of ships.

This biofouling is thought to add more than 20 per cent to the fuel costs of commercial shipping—that’s a big cost for the maritime trading nations of Australia and Indonesia.

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Carving out success in wooden exports

Wooden furniture companies in Indonesia have doubled their income after taking part in training courses to boost production efficiency and improve overseas opportunities.

Furniture—predominantly made from teak or mahogany—is one of Indonesia’s big exports. But even in the region of Jepara, known in particular for its carved furniture, the manufacturing industry has been marked by poor production efficiency, resulting in less recovered timber and lower overall quality of furniture products.

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Boosting vaccine performance

Vaccines work best when they include an adjuvant, something that boosts your immune system’s reaction to the vaccine.

University of Melbourne researchers have recreated a fragment of a bacteria protein that activates white blood cells.

In 2012, they signed a research agreement with Bio Farma to help them turn their idea into a novel vaccine platform that could enhance vaccines for hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and other diseases.

Can sunshine help prevent pneumonia?

A link between vitamin D deficiency and pneumonia is being investigated in two studies by Indonesian and Australian scientists in Indonesia.

They’re tracking the incidence and severity of respiratory tract infections in early childhood,including the common cold, asthma,pneumonia, and bronchiolitis, in hospitals and the community, in the hope of providing more information for treatment and management for respiratory diseases.

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Making jet engines (and power generation) more efficient

It’s very hard to set up a jet engine in a wind tunnel and get accurate measurements inside it while it’s rotating 7,000 times a minute.

As air passes over these turbine blades (flowing from right to left) a wake is created which interacts with the next (lower) blade. Credit: Richard Sandberg and Richard Pichler
As air passes over these turbine blades (flowing from right to left) a wake is created which interacts with the next (lower) blade.
Credit: Richard Sandberg and Richard Pichler

So while other members of the University of Melbourne’s mechanical engineering department use wind tunnels to measure turbulence on the surface of airplanes, Professor Richard Sandberg has developed a computer program to make the same measurements inside an engine.

His work also applies to the turbines used to generate power from gas, wind and wave.

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Putting a window and lasers in a ship’s hull to improve efficiency

Every shipping manager wages an endless battle against fouling—the bacteria, seaweed, barnacles and other marine life that take up residence on the hull of ships within days of it entering the water.

window4-300x169[1]This biofouling is thought to add more than 20 per cent to the fuel costs of commercial shipping, not to mention the added journey time for a ship weighed down with barnacles. That’s a big cost for the maritime trading nations of Australia and Indonesia, potentially adding up to billions of dollars per year.

Using lasers and a window in a ship’s hull, researchers will assess how quickly the efficiency of the ship declines, and then how to balance fuel efficiency and the cost of putting a ship in dry dock to clean it. Continue reading Putting a window and lasers in a ship’s hull to improve efficiency

Making waves in a wind tunnel

We know the Southern Ocean plays a big role in our climate, but there’s much to learn about how and where clouds form over the sea, how they influence global temperatures, and how the wind affects cloud formation and how much carbon dioxide our oceans can absorb.

A wave pool in a wind tunnel: Professor Jason Monty’s work on air-sea interaction will inform climate models and more. Credit: Joe Vittorio
A wave pool in a wind tunnel: Professor Jason Monty’s work on air-sea interaction will inform climate models and more.
Credit: Joe Vittorio

Now a 60m ‘wave pool in a wind tunnel’ built by Associate Professor Jason Monty is allowing researchers from The University of Melbourne, Swinburne, and Monash University to find out.

“We know that small eddies at the surface of the ocean affect how evaporation occurs and gasses are exchanged, but this turbulence is not included in climate models, as no one has been able to measure it,” Jason says.

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Smart credit limits save money for customers and banks

The credit limit you’re not using on your card is costing the bank money, and that’s increasing the cost for all customers’ cards.

Jonathan left a ‘big four’ bank to pursue his PhD at the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, drawing on his experience to address a real-world problem.
Jonathan left a ‘big four’ bank to pursue his PhD at the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, drawing on his experience to address a real-world problem.

Now, Melbourne mathematicians have developed a way of minimising this using the bank’s data on customer spending behaviour.

The unused credit costs the bank money because regulators require them to have funds in reserve – which they can’t invest elsewhere for profit – to cover the possibility you’ll make a large purchase and not pay the money back.

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