engineering

Mission design at rocket speed

Planning space missions is traditionally a time-consuming and costly process. But the new Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF), housed at UNSW’s Canberra campus, speeds things up so a mission can be planned in weeks rather than months.

Harnessing the expertise, design processes and software of the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), the UNSW team has created Australia’s first concurrent design facility.

The ANCDF allows engineers and scientists—both professionals and students—to design different parts of a mission in parallel rather than one after the other, which is the traditional approach. [continue reading…]

Loose joints; safe water; the limits of executive power – 2013 Menzies scholars

Sir Robert Menzies’ legacy continues
Scholarships announced today to young leaders in physiotherapy, engineering, and the law in Sydney and Melbourne.

The treatment of “loose joints”, or hypermobility, a painful inherited condition particularly of adolescent girls; the provision of safe and adequate water resources to communities in Australia and the developing world; and examining the possibilities and limits of executive power—these are just some of the issues being tackled by this year’s crop of Menzies scholars. [continue reading…]

Sustainable fuels throw up health concerns

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.

Nicolas is one of the 2012 Fresh Scientists, presenting his work for the first time to the public.

The team looked at a range of biodiesels made from soy, tallow and canola.

Using specialised analytical monitoring equipment developed at the University, they discovered that burning diesel fuels with a high percentage of biodiesel (up to 80%) produced higher emissions of compounds linked to respiratory disease. These biologically active compounds are called reactive oxygen species and form on surface of small soot particles in the exhaust emissions. Reactive oxygen species can lead to the cell damage called oxidative stress which, over long periods of time, can progress to serious respiratory disease.

“This is a very important discovery,” Nicholas says. “Now we’ve identified a component of the emissions that causes the problem we can start to look for solutions.

The research team, led by Professor Zoran Ristovski, is now focusing on understanding the way the reactive oxygen species in the emissions are generated, and on how to remove them.

This work is aimed at providing the transport industry with fuels that not only have a favourable environmental impact, but also that place a lesser burden on respiratory health.

Images and video footage to support the story are available on request from the research team.

The research was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

For interviews:

Nicholas Surawski describing his research in the time it takes a sparkler to burn. Credit: Thami Croeser

 

Writing to a single atom; when did shyness and PMT become mental illnesses; and more‏

Today Australian engineers reveal in Nature how they have written information to a single electron opening the way to a quantum computer based on silicon.

Quantum computers promise to solve complex problems that are currently impossible on even the world’s largest supercomputers if only we could make one. Many esoteric approaches have been tried.

Researchers at UNSW said, “We can do this using silicon – and computer makers already know how to use that.

See below for more details. [continue reading…]

Inspiring NSW

Call for citizen scientists to track Humpbacks, the truth behind sci-fi films revealed, Nobel Laureate Dr Brian Schmidt at Border Stargaze and more.

[continue reading…]

Robert Menzies legacy continues to shape the nation

Menzies Foundation

Young leaders from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide awarded Menzies scholarships to study in US, UK, and Australia

The effect of diet on brain function; whether virtual reality can be used for rehabilitation of arm movements following traumatic brain injury; how chemotherapy damages nerves; and the role of engineering in sustainable development—these are just some of the issues being tackled by this year’s crop of Menzies scholars.

[continue reading…]