The Flinders University team in South Australia has partnered with Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, Australian Stock Exchange-listed First Graphene Lt, and manufacturer Kremford Pty Ltd.
The collaboration is developing a GO-powered battery, a super-capacity energy storage alternative to emerging lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology.
Graphene is the lightest, strongest, most electrically conductive material available and has been predicted to generate revolutionary new products in many industry sectors. But so far unreliable quality and poor manufacturing processes has prevented an industrial graphene market.
In 2015, Flinders University scientists were awarded an Ig Nobel Award for creating the Vortex Fluidic Device and using it to unboil an egg.
The device has also been used to accurately slice carbon nanotubes to an average length of 170 nanometres using only water, a solvent and a laser.
It has also been used to process graphene to a high quality for commercial use.
VFD creator and professor of clean technology at Flinders University Professor Colin Raston said the production of GO from graphite ore with minimal waste was an important part of the collaborative project.
“This project aims to develop the manufacturing specifications for the commercial production of a graphene oxide super-capacitor with the ‘look and feel’ of a LIB but with superior performance across weight, charge rate, lifecycle and environmental footprint factors,” Professor Raston said.
The AU$3.45 million project is being supported by a $1.5 million Cooperative Research Centre Project grant through the Australian Government’s Advance Manufacturing Fund.
First Graphene will use the Flinders University technology to produce the highest-quality graphene at scale and to become a global supplier of graphene nanomaterials products.
X-ray technology is set to increase the efficiency of assessing ore grades and reduce the mining industry’s environmental footprint.
South Australian company Chrysos has developed a gold analysis process that is up to three times more accurate than conventional methods.
PhotonAssay uses high-powered x-ray machines to activate the gold in a given sample and measure the signal it gives off to quickly and accurately quantify how much gold is present.
The process also helps to reduce the environmental impact of mineral processing because it eliminates the need for toxic chemicals and lead.
Chrysos is setting up its first production unit in Western Australia, working in partnership with Ausdrill and MinAnalytical.
The company aims to have a smaller on-site model available next year to better support in-field exploration campaigns and make exporting its technology easier.
Chrysos CTO and PhotonAssay founder James Tickner said the AU$6m project to take the technology to market would address the inefficiencies of mineral processing.
“Technology is advancing and many industries are getting information in real-time and down the track we see the technology being deployed to mining sites so that we can provide quite substantial gains for the mining industry,” he said.
“The challenge the industry has at the moment is that the current methods for analysing gold ore are not fast enough and require too much work.
“Our process itself is not new but we have developed it further to be more accurate … it also has the potential to assess other metals as well like silver or copper.”
During the PhotonAssay procedure, a sample is put into a plastic screw top jar weighing about half a kilogram.
The jar is then placed on a conveyor belt inside Chrysos’ analysis machine where x-rays determine how much gold is in the sample.
Illustration of the PhotonAssay process where different metals are counted atom-by-atom after unique signatures are produced when a sample is hit with an X-ray beam.
Chrysos partnered with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to trial its technology in Canada last year. The results showed PhotonAssay was able to estimate the measurements of samples down to 30 parts per billion.
The level of precision depends on the amount of gold in each sample but for high-grade samples, the accuracy was within about one per cent.
Ausdrill’s COO of Australian Operations Andrew Broad said the destructive nature of contemporary procedures such as Fire Assays and the speed of PhotonAssay led the company to partner with Chrysos.
“There are two major issues with how things are done now with Fire Assays – they are quite laborious and it is quite difficult to get skilled labour in that field and they take anywhere between 24-48 hours to get results, reduced to just minutes using PhotonAssay,” he said.
“Fire Assay is also very destructive but with this (PhotonAssay) you can run further tests on a sample at a later date.”
Broad said one of the main benefits of PhotonAssay was its reduced environmental impact because it eliminated the need for dangerous chemicals and lead, which are used in other competing technologies.
Ausdrill plans to set up its first unit at a mine in Kalgoorlie about 600km east of Perth in Western Australia. It is projected to be up and running in December.
It then hopes to export the technology to other projects in Africa.
China has engaged South Australian water industry experts to direct aquifer recharge trials in an effort to reduce flooding and improve supply.
The consortium of six South Australian companies, known as the Australia China Sponge City Consortium, has opened an office in the Shandong capital Jinan. Work will begin this year on a pilot project in Jinan as part of the Sponge City initiative, which has a budget of up to AU$128 million per city.
Consortium spokesman Geoff Fisher, from Australian Water Environments, said the group would leverage the skills and experience gained from the delivery of several successful aquifer recharge projects in the South Australian capital Adelaide over the past two decades.
“Our role will be threefold: to address flooding and water quality, improve the liveability of Jinan through good design and re-instate the springs and their associated spiritual and cultural value,” he said.
“The city has a world-renowned spring system which is being depleted by rapid urbanisation.
“We’ll be taking our knowledge and years of experience to Jinan but we’ll also be learning from them – for example, they have problems with acid rain which Adelaide doesn’t have, but dealing with that problem will extend our knowledge”.
China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development, and Ministries of Finance and Water created the ‘sponge city’ initiative to help prevent flash-flooding in the wet season and capture stormwater and rainwater for use during the dry season.
In April 2015, the Chinese Government announced the first 16 pilot sponge cities including Jinan, a city of about 7 million people.
The six members of the South Australian consortium are Syntec Global, Alano Water, Water Data Services, Aqueon, Hassell and Australian Water Environments.
The Water Industry Alliance is a cluster of 150 water-related organisations focused on sharing South Australia’s water expertise with the world.
CEO Rachel Barratt said the Jinan office would grow as the project developed.
She said the six companies in the consortium had a range of complementary skills to cover the broad range of expertise required for urban water reuse projects.
“In the example of a wetland project there’s a number of technical expertise required from landscape and urban design through to managed aquifer recharge, water quality monitoring, remote sensing and IT,” Barratt.
“These companies have worked together on projects in Adelaide and that’s the collaborative model we are taking to China to provide an integrated solution.”
Rapid urbanisation, poor water management and drainage contributed to more than 230 Chinese cities being affected by floods in 2013.
Barratt said while flood mitigation would be a feature of the projects, improving urban landscapes and water reuse were also important.
She said the stored water would likely be reused for secondary purposes such as industrial use and irrigation.
“It will be about providing a liveable environment that might have wetlands, green space and bicycle trails to draw the community in and at the same time it would have some water treatment through various processes and managing the aquifer recharge,” she said.
“The aquifers in Shandong move a lot faster than the aquifers in South Australia so they will have to design it appropriately with that in mind.”
South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent on earth and has become a world leader in water treatment and reuse technologies.
The state and Shandong Province, which has a population of 100 million, have a 30-year relationship as sister states, paving the way for the collaboration. The Jinan office was officially opened earlier this month during a South Australian Government-led trade mission to China.
Barratt said pre-existing relationships were crucial in securing the deal. She said the visit to Adelaide by a Chinese delegation in September last year also provided an important opportunity to showcase successful water management projects in action.
“We showed them a lot of sites where we have applied this technology so we have really leveraged off of a lot of these existing relationships, which has proved really important,” she said.
“We’ve already been invited to come back for their spring festival and present to other cities in Shandong and then we can look broader than that into other provinces but it is a pretty big market.”
South Australian software that allows air conditioning companies to design system layouts accurately and efficiently is being rolled out across the globe.
Plandroid, a program from Delft Red Simulation Technology in South Australia, uses a standard floor plan drawing to create the optimal heating and cooling solution for a property and provides a project quote in minutes.
International demand for the software has grown over the past year from zero to about 10 per cent of the company’s revenue and includes customers in South Africa, New Zealand and the United States.
Delft Red Simulation Technology founder Mike Garrett said he expected exports of Plandroid to rise significantly in the next year and estimated the business to almost double in size by 2018.
He said the company was expanding rapidly to meet demand and was aiming for a push into Europe in the coming months.
“The industry standard is still graph paper and drawing rough hand designs with crayons,” he said.
“It’s inefficient and using Plandroid they can do all the planning in a fifth of the time.
“The thing about Plandroid is it’s a simple, point-and-click, drag-and-drop program that anyone can use – you don’t need to be an engineer to get the right design.”
The software is targeted towards large manufacturers such as Advantage Air, which then use installation teams to deliver their products.
These smaller teams are able to choose from a stock list of items from the air conditioning companies and drag them onto a CAD-style ducting design superimposed over a house plan. This eliminates the need for custom designing of a project.
Plandroid calculates basic heat loads, the total design cost and creates reports for the customer, installer and supplier.
It also saves favoured designs as pre-sets to be used on other buildings.
Garrett said Plandroid would be beneficial for shopping centres, airports, factories and large commercial buildings but was primarily used for high-end houses.
Delft Red Simulation Technology has more than 350 clients around the world and is in the process of expanding the program to include more features.
“We are working on a lighting mode right now,” Garrett said.
“The old barriers between electricians, plumbers and air conditioning installers are being reduced and our program will expand into more of those jobs.
“In the future you will be able to do solar panel installations, underfloor heating and more electrical designs throughout the house.”
Using remote access technology, the company supports customers across Australia and the world.
Delft Red Simulation Technology is based in South Australia’s capital Adelaide, at the Base64 business centre run by technology entrepreneur Simon Hackett.
Hackett was part of the group that developed the Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) – the first emergence of the Internet in Australia.
By Caleb Radford