The need to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy technologies is becoming more urgent, and Australia’s trading partners are demanding low-emission energy sources.
Electricity production from renewables can be variable, and any excess electricity must be stored for use on days with less wind or sun. Battery systems are used for storage, but they have limitations.
An alternative is to store energy in the form of hydrogen.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Pasteur Institute in France are creating biological factories within cells to make and detect molecules for a wide range of uses in health, environmental monitoring and industry.
Synthetic biology—the application of engineering principles to build new biological parts, circuits and devices—has been used to build tumour-killing bacteria, for example, and has great potential for green chemistry that uses fermentation rather than petrochemicals.
Changing how communities think about water in Oceania
Water is a fundamental necessity of life, and managing water—who uses it and how—is a key challenge in developing countries.
Decisions about how to use scarce freshwater for drinking, agriculture, industry, and the environment can lead to conflict. In Oceania, this is often complicated by questions of who should make the decisions—governments, landholders, industry or others.
On a series of calm, cool mornings in April 2017, 70 French scientists (from the French space science agency CNES, CNRS IRAP, and the Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse) launched three enormous balloons into the sky above the heart of Australia.
CNES was using the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Centre (ASBLS) to send three precision scientific instruments up to altitudes of 30–40 kilometres to make observations that are impossible from the ground.
For a long time, doctors and patients have dreamed of precision oncology, a process that allows specific, effective treatments for individual tumours.
In the past, the complex nature of tumours has made this impossible.
“Within a tumour, there are many different cell populations, each doing different things and behaving in different ways. Most cells will be killed by chemotherapy, but some are not,” says Associate Professor Frederic Hollande of The University of Melbourne.
Polymers are being used for non-stick coatings, anti-fouling technology, precision drug delivery, medical diagnosis, imaging, and many other applications.
Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer’s ideas are built on the revolutionary RAFT techniques (a technique to precisely control how small molecules are linked together to form large polymer chains) for which Professor David Solomon and Dr Ezio Rizzardo received the 2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. His latest technology uses light and chlorophyll to catalyse the production of polymers.
The world’s first 3D-printed jet engine was presented at the Australian International Airshow in early 2015. The creation of the engine, by Monash University researchers in collaboration with CSIRO and Deakin University, has already led to partnerships with international aerospace industries.