Tag Archives: nuclear science

Advanced technologies underpinning the space race

Wednesday 9 March 2022 12noon AEDT

Space represents a new frontier for science, research and innovation in Australia, as well as the opportunity for significant economic development. Australia is well-placed to capitalise on this growing industry and employment boom. Innovation in space technology can support agriculture, communications, defence, disaster management, the environment and more, while improving the lives of everyday citizens. 

ANSTO has diverse capabilities and expertise in many areas, including advanced materials, radiation detection and dosimetry (the impact of galactic cosmic radiation on human cells), the characterisation of planetary materials and advanced manufacturing, which can support space research and development. 

Meet four space industry experts and hear how researchers, government and industry are collaborating to ensure Australia secures a podium finish in the space race. 

Wednesday 9 March 2022 12noon AEDT

This webinar is FREE to attend and registration is essential. Secure your spot by clicking the button above.

Meet the panel

Dr Mark Ho works at ANSTO’s Nuclear Analysis Section, in support of OPAL reactor operations. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales in computational fluid dynamics – using high performance computing to simulate boiling phenomenon. Currently, he supervises two doctoral candidates on reactor-related research and keeps a watching brief on nuclear power developments.

Dr Mark Ho, Reactor Heat Transfer Specialist, ANSTO

Mark is the vice president of the Australian Nuclear Association (ANA), an independent scientific organisation representing members of the profession. The ANA advocates the peaceful use of nuclear technology, engaging with the government, industry and the wider public.

Dr Ceri Brenner leads ANSTO’s Centre for Accelerator Science – an Australian government research infrastructure facility dedicated to applications of megavolt ion beam accelerators.

Dr Ceri Brenner, Leader, Centre for Accelerator Science, ANSTO

She oversees a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers who work together with academic and industry users to deliver a suite of ultra-sensitive radioisotope and trace element analysis, and precision irradiation capabilities that further our understanding, drive innovation, and inform policy in areas such as environment, climate and health sciences, space technologies and advanced materials, and cultural heritage.

Flavia Tata Nardini, co-founder and CEO of one of Australia’s most exciting space startups Fleet Space Technologies, along with her growing team, are preparing to launch 140 nanosatellites by 2027, launching their seventh and eighth later this year.

Flavia Tata Nardini, CEO and Co-Founder of Fleet Space Technologies

These nanosats will be used to connect billions of sensors across the globe through low cost, low power remote massive IoT. A real-life rocket scientist, former propulsion test engineer at the European Space Agency and holder of two patents, Flavia has worked across a broad range of innovative space projects, from micropropulsion systems for CubeSats to space debris removal systems, experience that directly informs Fleet’s rapid progress towards their goal. Flavia has recently added Mission Chair of the 7Sisters Moon Mission to her achievements, Australia’s mission of discovery for Earth, the Moon and Mars.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Natural Resources Commissioner.

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

Hugh is a world-leading authority on machine learning and robotics, and applications in areas including cargo handling, mining and defence. He has published over 300 research papers, graduated over 70 PhD students, and has won numerous awards and prizes for his work, including being named 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year and 2008 Engineers Australia NSW Engineer of the Year.

In his career he has worked with many major companies and has co-founded three successful start-up companies. He is particularly well known for his work with Patrick in delivering the automated container terminals in Brisbane and Port Botany, and for his work with Rio Tinto in pioneering and delivering the automated “Mine of the Future”. He is an honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia (HonFIEAus), a Fellow of the IEEE (FIEEE), Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS).

The ANSTO Innovation Series

The ANSTO Innovation Series is a new virtual meet-up that focuses on the key capacities of ANSTO’s people, partners and facilities and how they are meeting global challenges in sustainable industries, medicine, advanced manufacturing and in accelerating small business.

Delivered as a quarterly webinar, the ANSTO Innovation Series features an expert panel exploring the latest science, industry and start-up opportunities, including innovations in energy storage, nuclear medicine and health, engineering new materials and accelerating deep tech business.

The ANSTO Innovation Series is produced in partnership with STEM-specialist publishers, Refraction Media, publishers of Science Meets Business, and hosted by leading science journalist, Lee Constable.

The Future of Battery Power


The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is the home of Australia’s most significant national infrastructure for research. Thousands of scientists from industry and academia benefit from gaining access to state-of-the-art instruments every year.

ANSTO researchers work on global science and technology challenges, and operate landmark research infrastructure including one of the world’s most modern nuclear research reactors, OPAL; as well as a comprehensive suite of neutron beam instruments at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering; the Australian Synchrotron; the National Imaging Facility Research Cyclotron; and the Centre for Accelerator Science. ANSTO also hosts the nandin innovation centre, one of Australia’s few deep technology hubs facilitating industry engagement and research translation.

Subscribe to our regular innovation and research news updates to get notification of the webinars.

Preventing soil erosion with nuclear know-how

Scientists from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Macquarie University have combined their respective backgrounds in nuclear science and geomorphology to determine rates of soil erosion across catchments in Asia and the Pacific.

The study, using fallout radionuclides, is part of a technical cooperation project under the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Asia and the Pacific, funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Soil erosion reduces land productivity and degrades soil, and can be caused by poor agricultural practices. Understanding the causes and rates of soil erosion is essential for maintaining productive agricultural landscapes, food security and the surrounding environment.

“Nuclear techniques give us an opportunity to look at the longer term patterns of soil erosion and deposition through strategic sampling and analysis,” says Dr Tim Ralph, senior lecturer at Macquarie University’s Department of Environmental Sciences. “Instead of monitoring soil erosion for many years, selective samples can be used to interpret the pattern of erosion over the past 10 or 20 years, or longer.”

The soil samples were analysed by ANSTO scientists for radioactive isotopes, such as naturally occurring Lead 210 (210Pb). “Within your soil profile, you can also see high levels of 210Pb in the top of your profile, and then the deeper you go, the more it has decayed away,” says Professor Henk Heijnis, senior principal research scientist and leader of environmental research within the Nuclear Science and Technology cluster at ANSTO.

“If you have soil erosion, you don’t see that decay of 210Pb with the profile. You might see very low values right at the top; that means the top has disappeared and nothing is accumulating at that time,” explains Heijnis.

Samples were also analysed for compound specific stable isotopes of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, which are produced by various crops in different amounts. These elements accumulate in deposition sites at the bottom of a catchment and can help determine, particularly across larger catchment areas, which crops are contributing to erosion.

“The analysis at the deposition site for compound-specific stable isotopes will give you a list of crops and land uses,” Heijnis says. “The relative abundance of these compounds will tell you the contribution of each of the types of land use and crops.”

Understanding the causes and rates of erosion and which agricultural practices are contributing to erosion will inform steps to mitigate the effects of these practices, such as terracing slopes or planting crops that can assist in soil stability.

“One of the big things this project did was to build a regional database of soil erosion based on these radionuclide techniques, so that we can now get a picture of the extent of erosion throughout Asia and the Pacific,” Ralph explains.

Scientists are continuing to construct the database of natural and unnatural erosion rates across different catchments. Ralph says the data to date shows that erosion rates were hugely variable between countries and even between different land uses within a single catchment.

There are plans for a future project to look at soil and water quality and soil structure, which would further add to the erosion database.

Find out more at ansto.gov.au

– Laura Boness