VIC

New rotavirus vaccine could benefit millions of children

A rotavirus vaccine that can be given days after birth has been developed by Australian and Indonesian researchers.

Rotavirus is the common cause  of severe diarrhoea and a killer of approximately 215,000 children under five globally each year.

The oral vaccine, called RV3-BB, was given in three single doses, the first within five days of birth. Until now, the vaccine against rotavirus was available in Australia and only on the private market in Indonesia, and could only be administered from six weeks of age.

After three doses of RV3-BB administered from birth:

  • 94 per cent of infants were protected in their first year of life against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis
  • 75 per cent of infants were protected to 18 months of age.

The success of the RV3-BB vaccine is the culmination of more than four decades of work, which started with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Professor Ruth Bishop and the discovery of rotavirus in 1973.

The trial was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PT BioFarma.

Read the full media release on the MCRI website.

Read an earlier story on the work in our Stories of Indonesia-Australia Innovation collection from 2016.

Improving rail safety in Indonesia and Australia

The sweet spot for rail repair vs efficiency

Computer models to predict how railcars will respond to different track conditions are being developed by Indonesian and Australian researchers, to improve rail safety and efficiency in both countries.

They’ve already created a successful model for passenger carriages, which has been validated against the performance of trains in Indonesia. Now the researchers are working on models for freight trains.

“For railways, it’s standard practice to measure the conditions of the track periodically,” says Dr Nithurshan Nadarajah, a research engineer at the Institute of Railway Technology at Monash University.

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A 3D printed rocket engine – made in Melbourne

Monash engineers have designed, printed, and test-fired a rocket engine.

Media call 9.30 am, Monday 11 September, Woodside Innovation Centre, New Horizons Building, 20 Research Way, Monash University, Clayton

HD footage of static rocket testing and metal printers at work
Media contact: Niall Byrne, 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

The new rocket engine is a unique aerospike design which turns the traditional engine shape inside out.

Two years ago, Monash University researchers and their partners were the first in the world to print a jet engine, based on an existing engine design. That work led to Monash spin-out company Amaero winning contracts with major aerospace companies around the world.

Now a team of engineering researchers have jumped into the Space Age. They accepted a challenge from Amaero to design a rocket engine, Amaero printed their design, and the researchers test-fired it, all in just four months. Their joint achievement illustrates the potential of additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) for Australian industry.

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Smarter electrification: providing energy isn’t enough 

Four years ago life in Pulau Bau, a village on a tiny island off North Maluku in Indonesia, was transformed. The community was supplied with electricity via small-scale diesel generators and a state-of-the-art solar energy system with battery backup.

Every house was receiving some electricity—not a lot, but some. But early in 2017 the system broke down, and the cost to repair it (equivalent to AUD$20,000) was beyond the budget of the community.

The Indonesian government is committed to providing energy to all citizens by 2020. It isn’t going to be easy for a 5,150km-long archipelago where more than 65 million people, many in remote communities, currently go without.

An Australia-Indonesia Centre project is working to identify the opportunities and challenges in meeting the real needs of these communities.Technology alone won’t deliver. The solutions will need to be tailored to community aspirations, and be resilient so they keep working when the engineers go home.

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What could giant batteries mean for Indonesian energy?

In response to blackouts and concerns over energy supply, South Australia is getting the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. What exactly does this mean for the future of energy in Australia, and could such an approach work for Indonesia?

“The announcement of the Neoen and Tesla investment in a 100MW/129MWh battery adjacent to the Hornsdale wind-farm in South Australia is ground-breaking, and clearly foreshadows the shape of the Australian energy future,” says Dr Ariel Liebman, Co-Lead of the Australia-Indonesia Centre Energy Cluster and Deputy Director of the Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI).

“However, we shouldn’t get too complacent because there are still significant challenges in turning this kind of activity into business-as-usual.

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Radar-in-a-suitcase makes bridges safer

Assessing ageing bridges just got safer and easier, thanks to a high-tech radar device that fits inside a suitcase.

Developed by Dr Lihai Zhang of The University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative research project supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre, the IBIS-S radar technology can scan a bridge in 15 minutes from a kilometre away with an accuracy of 0.01mm, quickly assessing its condition and stability.

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Meet the publisher who believes science should be social and research should be read

Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, is visiting Australia.

Steven Inchcoombe is the Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, overseeing the publication of over 2,900 journals including influential titles like Nature and Scientific Reports.

Steven was responsible for the Nature Publishing Group’s move into open access publishing, resulting in 60 per cent of their 2015 research articles being open access. Following the merger of the parent company in the same year, Springer Nature became the world’s largest open access publisher.

He was also behind the SharedIt content-sharing initiative which allows authors, subscribers and media partners to share links to the Springer Nature’s peer-reviewed research articles on social network and websites. A 15-month trial of this idea on nature.com led to 1.3 million additional article views.

Visiting Australia from the UK, Steven is speaking about big data, open data and open access publishing, and their value for academic research at a series of half-day symposia and networking events being held this week in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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  Melbourne hosts the world’s largest 3D printer—and it’s open for business

The biggest powder bed 3D printed metal aerospace component is on display at the Melbourne International Airshow at Avalon.

  • Press release below, and background information here.
  • Photos and video here
Barrie Finnin, CEO of Amaero, with a hand on the 3D printed door hinge from a Chinese jet airliner

Barrie Finnin, CEO of Amaero, with a hand on the 3D printed door hinge from a Chinese jet airliner

Monash University has commissioned the world’s largest metal printer, and has used it to print a large door hinge from a Chinese jet airliner. The aluminium hinge weighs 11 kg and is 40 by 80 by 39 cm in size. It is the largest powder bed 3D printed metal aerospace component printed to date.

The $3.5 million Xline 2000R printer acquired by Monash University is one of five made to date by German manufacturer Concept Laser. It’s the only one outside America and Europe, the only one based in a university and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere available for contract manufacturing.

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Putting a window and lasers in a ship’s hull

Melbourne and Indonesian scientists work to improve shipping efficiency

Scientists available for interview in Bahasa Indonesia and English. Video overlay and photos of ferry available below.

Read the release in Bahasa Indonesia.

Every shipping manager wages an endless battle against fouling – the bacteria, seaweed, barnacles and other marine life that take residence on the hull of ships. This biofouling is thought to add more than 20 per cent to the fuel costs of commercial shipping. That’s a big cost for the maritime trading nations of Australia and Indonesia.

Using lasers and a window in a ship’s hull, researchers will assess how quickly the efficiency of the ship declines, and then how to balance fuel efficiency and the cost of putting a ship in dry dock to clean it.

A ship travelling between Java and South Samatra has had 30 centimetre windows installed in its hull for the research. Credit: Nadia Astari

A ship travelling between Java and South Samatra has had 30 centimetre windows installed in its hull for the research. Credit: Nadia Astari

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From the bionic ear to the ‘audiologist in your pocket

The Aussie hearing system you can set up yourself or for your gran: online and on your phone

From the bionic ear to the ‘audiologist in your pocket’ – high performance, low cost hearing for the four million of us who don’t want to admit our hearing loss

Images and background information below.

An Australian company has completed a trifecta of tools to help Australians take care of their own hearing without the stress and expense of audiology visits. It’s the product of decades of government-backed research. [continue reading…]