engineering

Julie Lovisa in lab

A Queensland engineer can now predict how long it takes for reclaimed land to become suitable for development, potentially saving millions of dollars in building costs.

Dr Julie Lovisa, of James Cook University, has created a mathematical model to predict when reclaimed land is solid enough to build on, allowing for greater accuracy in construction timelines.

“With the continual need for port expansions, we are left with reclaiming land from the sea, a process that can take decades if not centuries,” says Julie, who studied land reclamation in the Port of Brisbane as part of her PhD.

“We need to be as accurate as possible in our predictions – if we’re out by just one per cent, this can mean the difference between starting construction in two or 20 years,” she said.

To create land at the Port of Brisbane, watered-down dredged mud is pumped into containment paddocks erected in the ocean.

“It is the process of water being squeezed out of the mud that takes such a long time. We can try to speed this process up by loading the mud with sand, but there is only so much we can do,” Julie says.

By mathematically modeling the flow of water through the mud, it is possible to more accurately predict how long the overall settling process will take.

“At the end of the day, the bottom line for the port is ‘When can we build on our new land?’ We can now give them that answer with more accuracy,” Julie says.

Queensland State Finalist: Julie Lovisa, James Cook University

http://freshscience.org.au/2013/building

Compounds that affect respiratory health have been found in biodiesel exhausts. This might lead to restrictions on the use of this form of biofuel as an alternative to fossil fuel, according to researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

“With fossil fuel reserves dwindling, developing renewable alternative fuels is important,” postdoctoral fellow Dr Nicholas Surawski says, “but we should be particularly careful to protect against unwanted respiratory illness when we adopt new transport fuels.” The team is now looking at ways of cleaning up biofuel exhausts. [click to continue…]

A new technology to stop falls before they happen could help the elderly stay in their own homes longer.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have developed a simple way of predicting the likelihood of an elderly person falling in the near future, allowing action to reduce the chances of it happening. [click to continue…]

Printing solar cells

29 June 2011

in 2011

Australian researchers have invented nanotech solar cells that are thin, flexible and use 1/100th the materials of conventional solar cells.

Printable, flexible solar cells that could dramatically decrease the cost of renewable energy have been developed by PhD student Brandon MacDonald in collaboration with his colleagues from CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship and the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute. [click to continue…]


A minor modification to your car could reduce fuel consumption by over seven per cent.

The Deakin University invention uses waste heat to reduce friction by warming the engine oil. A prototype has been built and tested and the inventors are now talking to the car manufacturers and developing an aftermarket conversion kit. [click to continue…]

Melbourne researchers have developed smart bandages that change colour to reveal the state of the wound beneath.

Their invention could reduce the $500 million cost of chronic wound care in Australia. [click to continue…]

Patented South Australian technology

South Australian researchers have invented and patented a new technology for delivering cosmetics and drugs to the skin.They are using nanoparticles of silica (essentially sand) to create longer lasting cosmetics and creams that control the delivery of drugs through the skin.

They already have a family of international patents on their technology, and are now actively looking for commercial partners to get their invention out of the lab and on to your skin.

[click to continue…]

Imagine printing your own room lighting, lasers, or solar cells from inks you buy at the local newsagent. Jacek Jasieniak and his colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Padua in Italy, have moved a step closer to such a future, by developing liquid inks based on quantum dots that can be used to print devices.

[click to continue…]

Cling wrap captures CO2

15 June 2010

in 2010

High tech cling wraps that ‘sieve out’ carbon dioxide from waste gases can help save the world, says Melbourne University chemical engineer, Colin Scholes who developed the technology.

The membranes can be fitted to existing chimneys where they capture CO2 for removal and storage. They are already being tested on brown coal power stations in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, Colin says. His work is being presented for the first time in public through Fresh Science, a communication boot camp for early career scientists held at the Melbourne Museum. Colin was one of 16 winners from across Australia. [click to continue…]

A shoulder-joint implant, with the ball and socket on the opposite bones from nature, can significantly improve the quality of life of patients with severe arthritis and tendon tears, says medical engineer David Ackland from the University of Melbourne.

[click to continue…]

A young UNSW researcher has created conductive bioplastics which will transform the performance of bionic devices such as the cochlear ear and the proposed bionic eye. [click to continue…]

Come along to hear the Fresh Scientists of 2010 talk about their discoveries at one of our public events.

You will be able to hear them at the following venues:

  • Monday 7 June, 7pm at the Duke of Kent for Fresh Science at the pub.
  • Thursday 10 June 11-12 or 12:30-1:30 at the Melbourne Museum at the free school forums.

For more information on these events, visit our events page.

We are pleased to announce the Fresh Scientists of 2010:

  • Peter Domachuk, School of Physics, University of Sydney
  • Naomi McSweeney, School of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Australia
  • Andrew Dowdy, Bureau of Meteorology
  • Julien Ridoux, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • Bridget Murphy, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney
  • Dave Ackland, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • Colin Scholes, CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies
  • Bianca van Lierop, School of Chemistry, Monash University
  • Jason Du, CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment
  • David Floyd, Anglo-Australian Observatory /The University of Melbourne
  • Nasrin Ghouchi Eskandar, Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia
  • Rylie Green, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales
  • Jennifer Firn, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Natalia Galin, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania
  • Andrew Ward, South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • Jacek Jasieniak, CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies

More information on the 2010 Fresh Scientists will be available in the coming weeks.

NickFindanis_single pulse  of synthetic jet

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have improved the aerodynamics of aircraft by putting rows of tiny synthetic jets along the wings of aeroplanes —much like the suck and blow jets octopuses use to move through the water.

The models tested demonstrated smoothing of the air flow over the wing section. This would infer a faster and smoother ride on aeroplanes.

If adapted to aircraft this would potentially mean less fuel and ultimately less cost. [click to continue…]

Using microscopic streams of liquid to separate valuable metals from dissolved rock could revolutionise mineral processing, according to researchers at the University of South Australia.

The researchers already have shown the technique can be used to extract copper quickly and efficiently. They believe the process can be scaled up to industrial levels and used for recovering many other minerals such as nickel, uranium, gold and platinum. [click to continue…]

The odds that a futuristic quantum computer will be built of silicon have received a boost, thanks to new technology recently invented by researchers in the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (CQCT). [click to continue…]