Associated Research Centres
Significant scientific advances have been made in the development of engineered material products, positioning them for more rapid implementation. New analytical techniques using synchrotron and neutron beam-line facilities, have been developed, enabling the research team to characterise the extremely complex disordered structure of cements and geopolymers. These techniques, combined with multi-scale mathematical modelling, have provided the first detailed description of the process of geopolymer formation at an atomic level. Better understanding of how to control the amount and morphology of porosity in advanced ceramic materials has been gained. These ceramic foams have application in diverse areas, such as ultra high temperature insulation and bone tissue scaffolds. Studies of fracture of titanium alloys and development of novel bronze alloys provide new materials for defence aerospace and naval applications. In the area of dairy processing, investigations of cheese microstructure lead to improved production techniques. Synthesis of novel architecturally complex macromolecules afford materials for advanced automotive and industrial coatings.
Experimental measurements and molecular simulations of high temperature gas adsorption onto nanoporous carbon elucidate new approaches to separating and sequestering CO2 green house gas. Pilot scale facilities in Hazelwood power station (Victoria) provide a platform for validation of the work on large scale. The influence of polymer architecture on the dewatering performance of temperature-responsive flocculants has been useful in designing flocculants that can more easily be incorporated into typical mineral processing schemes and reduce the cost of pumping mineral tailings. Modelling, validated by experiment, gives insight into improved methods of operating vacuum filtration devices for solid-liquid separations. Fundamental studies of the binding of metal ions to organic complexing agents enables the design of extractants used to remove heavy metal contaminants from waste water streams.
The study of interfacial phenomena underpins materials processing in different application areas. Foodstuffs, consumer products, mineral processing, ceramics armor, rocket leading edges and wastewater treatment all depend on the understanding of molecules at interfaces on the nanoscale. Much progress has been made in understanding repulsive van der Waals forces, bubble coalescence and the role of structural forces in deformable interfaces. The combination of mathematical modelling and atomic force microscopy has enabled rapid advances in the area.