environment

Australia wastes 7.3 million tonnes of food a year, with Australian households responsible for dumping more than half of that: about 4.1 million tonnes or around 9kg of food from every home, every week.

But for the first time, we know exactly what we waste, how it is wasted, and where it goes.

Researchers from the University of South Australia have traced the cycle of food waste in a three-year study looking at the economic, environmental and psychological modelling of food waste.

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A new land management tool using Aboriginal knowledge

Ngan’gi speakers know it’s time to look for freshwater crocodile eggs when the red kapok trees near the Northern Territory’s Daly River burst into flower.

This can occur at a different time each year, but the environmental link is solid.

A Darwin-based scientist has converted this link and other intimate Aboriginal knowledge of Australia’s landscape into an environmental management tool.

CSIRO’s Emma Woodward worked with Aboriginal elders as part of the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research program to develop six seasonal calendars from six different language groups from the Northern Territory and Western Australia. [click to continue…]

Genetics can be used to shape plants underground so they absorb water better

Recent discoveries by a University of Queensland agricultural scientist provide the basis for custom designing plant roots. Her discovery is already being used by plant breeders to develop drought-resistant sorghum crops. [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…]

Samurai of the sea

9 June 2011

in 2011

SawfishWhat sawfish really do with their saw

Scientists thought that sawfish used their saw to probe the sea bottom for food.  But a Cairns researcher has found that these large (5 metres or more) and endangered fish actually use the saw to locate and dismember free-swimming fish – using a sixth sense that detects electric fields. She’s in Melbourne this week as a winner of Fresh Science. [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…]

New genus of bugs discovered at WA alumina refinery

Previously unknown species of naturally-occurring bacteria have the potential to save the alumina and aluminium industries millions of dollars while helping to reduce their impact on the environment, microbiologist Naomi McSweeney has found in a collaborative project between Alcoa of Australia, CSIRO and the University of Western Australia. [click to continue…]

A biotechnologist from the South Australian Research and Development Institute has taken using “everything but the pig’s squeal” to new lengths. Through clever recycling of pig waste, Andrew Ward has been able to produce feed for aquaculture, water for irrigation, and methane for energy. His ‘waste food chain’ can be applied to breweries, wineries and any system producing organic waste. [click to continue…]

Lava flows in Australia. Credit: Fred Jourdan courtesy of L Evins, formerly at University of Western Australia.

Lava flows in Australia. Credit: Fred Jourdan courtesy of L Evins, formerly at University of Western Australia.

A Curtin University researcher has shown that some ancient periods of massive eruptions released green house gases so quickly that they caused rapid climate change and mass extinctions.

But today we are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than even the most rapid sequence of eruptions.

“We have carefully dated minerals contained in the volcanic rocks and shown that only the fastest sequences of eruptions caused significant species extinctions,” says Dr Fred Jourdan who works as part of an international team.

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Bilbies and bettongs-the desert forms of bandicoots and rat-kangaroos-can bring degraded desert landscape back to life, a new study at the University of New South Wales has found. [click to continue…]

Smarter air traffic control could save 500 kg of fuel and reduce airport noise by 35% for a typical Boeing 747 flight between Sydney and Melbourne according to a team of Canberra-based researchers. [click to continue…]

During the past four decades, the oceans have been soaking up heat, expanding and rising at a rate about 50 per cent faster than previously estimated by the IPCC, a team of Australian and US oceanographers has found.

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Australian orchids are engaged in an arms race, using sensory overload to seduce male insects.

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Warfare between bacteria could provide an environmentally friendly solution to biofouling, according to Dhana Rao and her colleagues at the University of NSW.

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How sea slugs fall in love

14 August 2007

in 2007

Scott Cummins and his colleagues at The University of Queensland have uncovered a potent mix of chemicals which acts like a cross between Chanel No 5 and Viagra-but only if you are a sea slug.

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A Sydney research team has developed a sun and wind driven ventilation system to cool commercial buildings on the hottest summer days. They hope that the new system will reduce the power requirements of a commercial ventilation system by 15 to 20 per cent.

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