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
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
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.
Continue reading Inventing the ultimate suspension system
For the past decade scientists have been able to reprogram skin cells, nasal cells and other mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells that can turn into any cell type in the human body. How it works is only starting to become clear.
Teams led by Professors Ryan Lister at the University of Western Australia, Jose Polo at Monash University and Ernst Wolvetang at The University of Queensland are working together to understand how this process occurs, whether all cell types follow the same path to becoming pluripotent cells, and if this impacts their ability to mimic disease in the laboratory.
Through a series of collaborations over the last ten years the scientists have uncovered a number of stem cell secrets, opening the door for more targeted research and, ultimately, treatments for diseases. Continue reading How reprogramming cells turns back time