Tag Archives: Feature

X-rays for gold

China and Australia are the world’s two largest producers of gold. So, it’s fitting that a device combining Australian and Chinese research, and capabilities in high-tech manufacturing, is set to shake up the industry.

Ore processors need to know how much gold is in their raw material to get the most out of it. The current industry standard for testing ore is the fire assay, an elaborate and time-consuming process that requires temperatures over 1000 degrees and toxic chemicals such as lead. It also takes at least 8 hours to complete.

Continue reading X-rays for gold

Clean gas, clean air

New technologies are making natural gas a cheaper and greener fuel

Air quality in China’s cities is improving thanks to government initiatives to reduce urban coal burning. In Beijing, for example, homes, schools, hospitals and factories are switching from coal to gas for heating. As a result, demand for gas has quadrupled over the past decade. Now Australian researchers are partnering with Chinese industry to make gas production even cleaner and more efficient.

Both countries will benefit. China has large gas reserves but much of the gas is in unconventional sources such as coal seam gas and shale gas. The gases from these sources can contain less than 50 per cent methane so impurities such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen must be removed. For nitrogen that usually means cooling the gas to separate the valuable methane from the nitrogen in an energy-intensive process costing billions of dollars.

Continue reading Clean gas, clean air

How deep is your sleep?

Reading brain activity for better anaesthesia

More than 40 million people have major surgery in China each year. For every one of them the nature of consciousness is a very practical concern. Too low a dose of anaesthetic could see you wake up during the operation. Too high a dose could have long term health consequences.

Currently, the best monitoring devices can only monitor a suite of secondary indicators of consciousness. A Guangdong company has partnered with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) with the aim of making anaesthesia easier and safer. They’re creating an intelligent device to directly measure the depth of unconsciousness and adjust the anaesthetic dose in real time.

Continue reading How deep is your sleep?

The ‘coolest’ place for astronomy

High on the Antarctic Plateau, in one of the coldest places on Earth, a group of telescopes are peering through stellar dust clouds into the heart of our galaxy.

The cold helps counteract interference from the telescopes and surrounding equipment, which can hinder our ability to see relatively
‘cool’ objects in space, such as asteroids, young stars, and interstellar gas.

Continue reading The ‘coolest’ place for astronomy

More wheat, less water

China and Australia can dramatically boost wheat yields and improve food security by unlocking the genetic potential within the hundreds of wheat varieties grown in the two countries. That’s the promise of the latest collaboration between wheat researchers in the two countries.

Chinese farmers have been growing wheat for at least 4,000 years. Crop yields per hectare are now nearly 10 times higher than in 1960 and China is now the largest wheat producer in the world. But wheat researchers say we can do more.

Continue reading More wheat, less water

From sky to hospital

Working together to create advanced manufacturing industries

The maiden flight of the COMAC C919 airliner in May 2017 illustrated China’s ambition in advanced manufacturing.

Many of the airliner’s parts are made using 3D printing, and Australian engineers are working with their Chinese colleagues to develop the technology further.

Continue reading From sky to hospital

Astronomer flies high to spy on star formation

Dr Stuart Ryder is venturing into the stratosphere on a NASA jet to study the birthplace of massive stars.

Macquarie University astronomer Dr Stuart Ryder is in New Zealand to hitch a ride on a NASA jet and take a closer look at how stars are born in one of the most active stellar nurseries ever seen.

“We’re looking at a molecular cloud called BYF73, which is collapsing in on itself at extremely high speeds and forming massive stars,” says Stuart, who is an Adjunct Fellow with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie University.

Continue reading Astronomer flies high to spy on star formation

The neutron zone

The gift of a high-tech German neutron beam instrument is set to help Australian researchers develop new antibiotics, understand smart polymer coatings and create more efficient solar cells.

The Spatz neutron reflectometer uses a beam of neutrons generated in the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor in Sydney to reveal the structure of surfaces and interfaces such as cell membranes and multi-layered electronics.

Continue reading The neutron zone

Tougher materials for bigger turbines

The Danish wind turbine company Vestas is teaming up with Australian scientists to develop stronger carbon fibre composite materials to be used in reinforcing turbine blades.

Vestas has funded two years of research at Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus facility in Geelong into strengthening carbon fibre.

Continue reading Tougher materials for bigger turbines

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.

Continue reading Finding the way to zero-carbon energy