Tag Archives: Australian Research Council

New silicon carbide sensor tech coming through the mining pipeline

A Mechanical Engineer at the University of Southern Queensland believes he can help prevent injury and death on mine sites by detecting early mechanical issues in oil and gas pipelines using new sensors made of silicon carbide.

Dr Toan Dinh (pictured) has spent the past six years developing these sensors, with the aim of detecting imminent danger in the most harsh and corrosive environments.

Dr Dinh said these sensors are five to 100 times smaller than the width of a single human hair and perform a thousand times better than conventional sensors.

“The current silicon technology can’t be used in harsh environments because they can’t survive a long time in conditions of high temperature and corrosion,” Dr Dinh said. “The sensors I have developed can operate in up to 600°C for a wide range of applications, including oil and gas industries and aerospace technologies.”

Dr Dinh said it was critically important that the industry made working conditions safer for miners and more efficient.

“My sensors can detect and measure the tiniest of movements in the environment, as well as monitor, in real time, the structural health of a system, such as a pipeline, in case there is any changes or faults.

“This can help prevent a major system failure from occurring, not only reducing maintenance costs but potentially avert a catastrophic situation that could lead to injury or death.”

Dr Dinh recently received a A$440,675 ($339,949) grant under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme to further develop his research. This award scheme provides more focused support for researchers and creates more opportunities for early-career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions in Australia, according to the university.

The award will also enable him to travel to California, USA, where he will collaborate with researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to look at how the sensors could be used in space exploration.

“My goal is to start testing the sensors in real industry conditions as early as this year before they are ready for commercialisation,” Dr Dinh says.

Australia Government provides funding for beneficiation research

The Australia Government says it has backed a new research centre to develop more selective and faster methods for the separation of valuable minerals.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan, earlier this week, said the government would provide A$35 million ($24 million) to establish the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals.

The centre, a partnership between ARC and the University of Newcastle, will be led by Professor Kevin Galvin and based at the university.

The centre will see the University of Newcastle collaborate with researchers from seven Australian universities, CSIRO, industry partner organisations, as well as leading international researchers, according to the university.

“Some minerals are becoming difficult to access and extract, while high usage of energy and water in processing make it expensive and environmentally demanding,” Professor Galvin said. “These pressures make it urgent that we transform the value addition of mineral processing, known as beneficiation, to achieve a step-change reduction in the environmental footprint.

“Through this investment, more than 70 PhD students and 15 post-doctoral researchers will work towards achieving ‘transformational’ solutions, working across multiple research disciplines. For the students, it offers a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to be part of a world-first project that can make a practical difference to the future of this planet.

“This new dawn will ensure a sustainable and competitive future for a critical Australian industry, involving a whole new generation of scientists and engineers.”

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor, Alex Zelinsky AO, believes the research will lead to a sustainable future for Australia’s mining industry.

“We’re delighted to receive this significant funding, which will enable us to carry out world-leading research into developing more efficient and environmentally-friendly mining processes,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“The work of the centre can help propel us closer to zero-emission mining by doubling energy and water productivity and reducing the loss of high value metals during processing by up to 90%, helping secure the future of the metals we depend on for modern living.

“This is a prime example of how our university is at the forefront of providing solutions to major environmental issues.”

ARC centre on mine asset maintenance receives Australia government backing

Universities and the mining industry are teaming up to tackle asset maintenance in the resources sector through the use of data science.

The new Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre will be led by Curtin University in partnership with The University of Western Australia (UWA), CSIRO and the University of Adelaide, and industry partners Alcoa, BHP and Roy Hill, as well as CORE Innovation Hub and the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia.

Curtin University was awarded A$3.9 million ($2.9 million) in ARC funding for the establishment of the centre, with planning for the new ARC Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science starting immediately.

ARC Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science Director, Professor Andrew Rohl (pictured), from the Curtin Institute for Computation, said: “The effective maintenance of engineering assets underpins the A$205 billion ($151 billion) annual export earnings from Australia’s resources sector.

“However, maintenance management practices have changed little in the last 20 years and are ripe for a digital overhaul that will bring developments in computational methods, statistics, applied mathematics and artificial intelligence to determine how, when and why maintenance is conducted.”

The new centre will enable the development and adoption of new practices to improve productivity and asset reliability for industry and to foster a new maintenance technology service sector for national and international markets, according to Professor Rohl.

UWA Professor Michael Small, CSIRO-UWA Chair of Complex Engineering Systems, said being able to effectively use data to create better systems, develop new technology and transform the way maintenance is carried out across the resources sector is critical and the creation of the new centre will allow industry to take huge steps towards this.