Tag Archives: materials

Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre

Delivering expertise for Australia’s critical infrastructure

Pipelines are not something at the front of everybody’s mind, but the crucial piping infrastructure that invisibly links our national, regional and city areas is an integral part of the energy industry and a key focus of the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (EPCRC).

A return in excess of $4.50 for every dollar the EPCRC spends is a tangible measure of the success of this well-established CRC.

Now in its seventh year, the EPCRC is currently working on four key program areas: more efficient use of materials; life extension of new and existing pipelines; advanced design and construction; and public safety and security of supply.

“The suite of topics is quite broad. We cover projects from basic materials research, and welding, corrosion and crack management, through to age maintenance, quality of coatings of pipelines, and cathodic protection [a mechanism used to reduce and prevent corrosion]. And how you do that is a mixture of both science and real-world experience,” says EPCRC CEO David Norman.

“What we have set up to deliver is an agenda of applied research driven by industry needs.”

The National Facility for Pipeline Coating Assessment (NFPCA) is a perfect example of how the EPCRC works via research to assist industry. An initiative of the CRC, the NFPCA is an independent facility established to perform oil and gas pipeline coating testing services.

“One of the things that industry needed was an ability to test coatings and one of the things we’ve been able to do is to satisfy that local need,” Norman says.

Prior to the establishment of the NFPCA, companies had to send coatings overseas to have them assessed. Now samples can be sent to Victoria to be tested, saving shipping costs and wait times, as well as growing local industry.

The EPCRC is now planning its next 10 years and is looking at how it can continue to add value to industry and the nation through its research projects. The organisation is also reaching out to the broader industry to identify the new challenges for which targeted research can assist with solutions through to 2030.

“By pooling our resources more widely across a whole industry, we have achieved things that never would have occurred if left to just one or two companies,” Norman explains.

“The CRC Programme is an excellent mechanism to bring together groups to tackle challenges and deliver solutions,” he adds.

The three key themes developing for the future are: life cycle management of pipelines, including research to better optimise how pipelines are designed and built, operated and decommissioned; security of supply with regards to urbanisation, public safety, and management by planning authorities; and future fluids and pipeline opportunities in the future energy transition.

As the world moves to lower carbon and potentially zero emissions, pipelines will have a critical role through their use for services other than for what they were originally designed – such as the role of storing gas in pipes rather than just transportation.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate that we provide in dollar terms in excess of what the average CRC provides for every dollar invested,” Norman says.

“We are excited for what the future holds as we continue to work closely with industry.”

– Penny Pryor

luxury watch

Luxury watch brand partners with nanotech

Featured image above: Christophe Hoppe with his new Bauselite luxury watch casing. Credit: Flinders University/Bausele.

In 2015, Bausele became the first Australian luxury watch brand to be invited to Baselworld in Switzerland – the world’s largest and most prestigious luxury watch and jewellery expo. Its success is, in part, thanks to a partnership with nanotechnologists at Flinders University and a unique new material called Bauselite.

Founded by Swiss-born Sydneysider Christophe Hoppe, Bausele Australia bills itself as the first “Swiss-made, Australian-designed” watch company. 

The name is an acronym for Beyond Australian Elements. Each watch has part of the Australian landscape embedded in its crown, or manual winding mechanism, such as red earth from the outback, beach sand or bits of opal.

But what makes the luxury watches unique is an innovative material called Bauselite developed in partnership with Flinders University’s Centre of NanoScale Science and Technology in Adelaide. An advanced ceramic nanotechnology, Bauselite is featured in Bausele’s Terra Australis watch, enabling design elements not found in its competitors.

NanoConnect program fosters industry partnership

Flinders University coordinates NanoConnect, a collaborative research program supported by the South Australian Government, which provides a low-risk pathway for companies to access university equipment and expertise.

It was through this program that Hoppe met nanotechnologist Professor David Lewis, and his colleagues Dr Jonathan Campbell and Dr Andrew Block.

“There were a lot of high IQs around that table, except for me,” jokes Hoppe about their first meeting.

After some preliminary discussions, the Flinders team set about researching the luxury watch industry and identified several areas for innovation. The one they focused on with Hoppe was around the manufacture of casings.

Apart from the face, the case is the most prominent feature on a watch head: it needs to be visually appealing but also lightweight and strong, says Hoppe, who is also Bausele’s chief designer.

The researchers suggested ceramics might be suitable. Conventional ceramics require casting, where a powder slurry is injected into a mould and heated in an oven. The process is suitable for high-volume manufacturing, but the end product is often hampered by small imperfections or deformities. This can cause components to break, resulting in wasted material, time and money. It can also make the material incompatible with complex designs, such as those featured in the Terra Australis.

New material offers ‘competitive edge’

Using a new technique, the Flinders team invented a unique, lightweight ceramic-like material that can be produced in small batches via a non-casting process, which helps eliminate defects found in conventional ceramics. They named the high-performance material Bauselite.

“Bauselite is strong, very light and, because of the way it is made, avoids many of the traps common with conventional ceramics,” explains Lewis.

The new material allows holes to be drilled more precisely, which is an important feature in watchmaking. “It means we can make bolder, more adventurous designs, which can give us a competitive advantage,” Hoppe says.

Bauselite can also be tailored to meet specific colour, shape and texture requirements. “This is a major selling point,” Hoppe says. “Watch cases usually have a shiny, stainless steel-like finish, but the Bauselite looks like a dark textured rock.”

Bauselite made its luxury watch debut in Bausele’s Terra Australis range. The ceramic nanotechnology and the watch captured the attention of several established brands when it was featured at Baselworld.

Advanced manufacturing hub in Australia

Hoppe and the Flinders University team are currently working on the development of new materials and features.

Together they have established a joint venture company called Australian Advanced Manufacturing to manufacture bauselite.  A range of other precision watch components could be in the pipeline.

The team hopes to become a ‘centre of excellence’ for watchmaking in Australia, supplying components to international luxury watchmaking brands.

But the priority is for the advanced manufacturing hub to begin making Bausele watches onshore: “I’ve seen what Europe is good at when it comes to creating luxury goods, and what makes it really special is when people control the whole process from beginning to end,” says Hoppe. “This is what we want to do. We’ll start with one component now, but we’ll begin to manufacture others.”

Hoppe hopes the hub will be a place where students can develop similar, high-performance materials, which could find applications across a range of industries, from aerospace to medicine for bone and joint reconstructions.

– Myles Gough

This article was first published by Australia Unlimited on 10 November 2016. Read the original article here

e-textile

E-textile helps soldiers plug in

Featured image above: BAE Systems new e-textile could benefit a wide variety of professions, including the military. Credit: BAE Systems

A wireless conductive fabric that allows soldiers to plug electronic devices directly into armour is making a commercial push into Southeast Asia.

BAE Systems has developed the Broadsword Spine garment, which is being distributed throughout the Asia Pacific region by its Australian arm, based in Adelaide.

It was designed using a unique e-textile created by Intelligent Textiles Limited in the United Kingdom and can be inserted inside vests, jackets or belts.

BAE Systems’ wireless connector promises a range of benefits for multiple professions including the emergency services.

Broadsword Spine is on display this week at the Land Forces 2016 event in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

Program manager David Wilson said the technology was extremely lightweight and was able to pass power from any source, which made it adaptable to an assortment of devices.

“It’s revolutionary in terms of how it can pass power and data through USB 2.0,” he says.

“It reduces the weight and cognitive burden of the soldier because it is doing a lot of power and data management automatically.

“It also has no cables, which means you’ve got no snag hazard and no issue in terms of the breaking of cables and having to replace them.”

Broadsword Spine has been designed to replace contemporary heavy portable data and power supplies used by the military as well as firefighters, paramedics and rescue personnel.

The lack of cables and additional batteries make the new material 40 per cent lighter than other systems.

The e-textile was also developed to withstand harsh environments and is water, humidity, fire and shock resistant.

The material uses highly developed yarns that act as the electricity and data conductor.

It is able to connect to a central power source to support all electronic devices and is easily recharged in the field using simple batteries or in-vehicle charging points.

There are eight protected data or power ports that are capable of supplying 5A and operate at USB 2.0 speeds.

The management of power and data is automated and is performed by a computer that is embedded into the e-textile loom.

Users also have the option of monitoring and controlling the technology manually using a smartphone app.

Wilson said contemporary models were often heavy could be highly complicated products that required special maintenance.

“It’s unique in that regard in that we don’t sell the whole system, we sell the middle architecture and allow the customer to decide what they want and how to integrate that system,” he says.

“We’ve published the pin-outs and connections so they can create their own integration cables. They don’t have to keep coming back to us and that way they can support it themselves.”

Low rate production of the  Broadsword Spine has begun in the United Kingdom.

Wilson said when production increased, the company would work to distribute the product to the Asia-Pacific region from its Adelaide base next year.

Land Forces is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier defence industry exhibition and has more than 400 participating exhibition companies from about 20 countries as well as about 11,000 trade visitors.

South Australian exhibitors at the event include University of South Australia, which has developed  camouflage cells for tanks, and Supashock, which has unveiled damping technology taken from race cars for use in army trucks.

– Caleb Radford 

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 8 September 2016. Read the original article here