Home' Know How : KnowHow Issue 1 Contents crca.asn.org
now being used on a commercial scale in
Victoria for footpaths and other similar
structures while researchers assess how
it behaves. Zeobond is applying the
synchrotron findings to the utilisation of
other waste materials and the design of
green cements for specific applications.
SCIENTISTS FROM the University
of Waikato in New Zealand used the
synchrotron to help them develop
Novatein, an eco-friendly bioplastic
made from bloodmeal, a co-product of
the red meat industry that is usually
turned into fertiliser and animal feed.
The idea came from chemical engineer
Dr Johan Verbeek, who knew that
plastics could be made from soy proteins,
and decided to investigate if protein-rich
bloodmeal could also be used this way.
At first, he says it was nearly
impossible to get bloodmeal to
behave like a thermoplastic, but after
discovering the correct additives and
processing method they now have a
standardised recipe to extrude and
injection-mould the material.
Verbeek and his team used the
synchrotron’s infrared microscopy
beamline to examine how polymer
chains made from bloodmeal proteins
interact before and after processing, and
how the different structures are spatially
distributed. This gave them insight into
how to further optimise Novatein’s
properties. “ We now have a much more
fundamental understanding of how
proteins behave in the solid state. We
can now start drawing comparisons
with regular polymers.”
Eco-wise, Novatein uses very
little petro-chemicals in its makeup
(unlike most common plastics) and
performs well in terms of the amount
of energy required to make the product
and the amount of greenhouse gases
released, Verbeek says. The team are
still investigating the dynamics of the
different processes that take place during
manufacturing and are looking for ways
to manipulate the chain structure.
HigH quality X-ray imaging
capabilities mean the synchrotron
can potentially provide more detailed
medical scans without requiring a higher
X-ray dose. This will be valuable for
monitoring how diseases progress over
time in longitudinal studies designed to
The synchrotron is also helping
science move closer to realising the
global dream of a practical and inexpensive
method of splitting water to produce
hydrogen, widely considered to have
enormous potential as a source of
affordable and renewable energy.
WhIlE dEMaNd FOR access to
the Synchrotron is strong, and therefore
highly competitive, industry has it easier.
In addition to allocated access time for
industry, the facility now has a dedicated
industry liaison team accessing extensive
experience in applying synchrotron
techniques to industrial challenges.
“As brilliant as this machine is, our
greatest value is in the passion and
curiosity of our scientific teams in its
application,” adds Cookson.
“ We invite anyone with a need for
a deeper understanding of a material
or process to ask us how we can help
them innovate, prototype and reduce
The scientific team at the MX Beamline, Australian Synchrotron.
Tannins are important for wine quality
and ageing, but we still don’t fully
understand how. Wine researchers
are using synchrotron techniques to
study tannin molecules so small (a few
nanometres) that tens of thousands
of them could fit across the width of
a human hair. The synchrotron tells us
about the size and shape of molecules
in solution, and how these change as
molecules interact, e.g.: combining,
breaking down, or responding to
other compounds present in wine.
Size is important for wine tannins
because the bigger the tannin, the
more puckery and astringent the wine.
Synchrotron techniques can fully cover
the wide range of sizes that might be
encountered in wine components, in a
way that no laboratory instrument can.
Wine quality at the nanoscale
The shape and size of tannin molecules
(shown here as coloured micrographs),
affects how wine tastes.
Real-time, in-situ synchrotron analysis
of mineral processing reactions
under industrial conditions is helping
Australia’s mining industries to raise
productivity, more efficiently extract
valuable metals, address environmental
impacts and cut greenhouse emissions.
Australian Synchrotron scientists
recently assisted researchers from
Alcoa of Australia Limited to further
their understanding of raw
materials to assist
Links Archive KnowHow Issue 2 Navigation Previous Page Next Page