The University of Newcastle, Australia

Local researchers succeed in latest ARC Linkage funding

Friday, 31 January 2020

Two University of Newcastle researchers, and a research team have been awarded more than $1.7 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for projects that support advancements in sustainable energy, health, agriculture and mineral processing.

The University’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Global Engagement and Partnerships, Professor Kevin Hall, said receiving funding from the competitive schemes highlighted how University of Newcastle researchers are at the forefront of collaboration.

“Our researchers are working with industry on projects that will make a difference here in Australia and across the world,” Professor Hall said.

“ARC funding is highly sought after. It will enable us to enhance our research capability on projects in areas of national and international interest, such as sustainable energy and clean food and water supplies.”

  • ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme outcomes

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and Professor Brett Neilan have received funding under the ARC’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme.

Professor Moghtaderi was awarded $760,000 for his project to establish a cutting edge Adaptive Electrical Capacitance Volume Tomography facility, based at the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), for real-time metering and imaging of multi-phase flows in engineering.

Professor Moghtaderi said optimisation of gas-solid and solid-liquid flows, which are encountered in virtually all processing technologies, was important in today’s carbon-constrained global economy.

“The facility will help improve our knowledge and understanding of these flows,” Professor Moghtaderi said.

“The research will lay a strong foundation for the development of new technologies in diverse industrial sectors, from mineral processing and clean energy to environmental remediation, and flows around aircraft, rockets and submarines.

“Optimising multi-phase flows is an important step to lower the cost and complexity of new technology to improve its scalability and commercial viability.  For example, food manufacturing could become cheaper and faster, potentially leading to lower food prices.”

Molecular biologist and microbial chemist, Professor Brett Neilan, will receive $400,000 to investigate genetic diversity in microorganisms and biotechnological applications.

The grant will help fund new state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure, such as a DNA library system and a small-scale bioreactor.

Professor Neilan said the project was expected to have significant commercial outcomes in the fields of industrial, biomedical and environmental biotechnology.

“The project will open new avenues for investigation that were not possible, even just a few years ago.

“For example, the new equipment will enable us to better understand how toxic cyanobacteria and algae respond to environmental change. These microbes pose risk to food and water security so this kind of research is critical to human health, agriculture and the environment,” Professor Neilan said.

The Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Scheme supports research and research training through the acquisition of research equipment and infrastructure and cooperative access to national and international research facilities.

  • ARC Linkage Projects scheme outcomes

Researchers from the University of Newcastle have received significant funding to develop advanced numerical models to simulate the grinding mill process, which will transform the production and maintenance of minerals processing equipment.

The $545,000 Australian Research Council Linkage grant has the potential to improve minerals processing practices both domestically and internationally.

Comminution, or reducing solid material to smaller particles for further treatment, is key practice within mineral processing. The aim of the project is to develop a smart, deep-learning simulation which mirrors comminution and informs the processing methods of various minerals.

Led by Professor Craig Wheeler, a cross-disciplinary team will merge expertise from solids processing and artificial intelligence to develop new computational algorithms.

“Our work will enhance the design and maintenance of key industrial equipment, predict wear and optimise the design of key components to improve the life of machinery to process minerals,” Professor Wheeler said.

Supported by the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), and in partnership with Bradken, a global equipment manufacturer, the research will lead to substantial commercial and productivity benefits, contributing to one of Australia’s most valuable exports.

Read more on the ARC website here.


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