Murdoch University researchers have come up with a potential solution for the central obstacle facing sustainable energy.
Wind turbines don't turn on a still day. Solar doesn't work at night and can be hampered by cloud, dust or snow coverage. To make sustainable resources a reliable form of energy their excess needs to be stored in batteries, currently making them an expensive and impractical option.
Dr Manickam Minakshi has developed a water-based sodium-ion battery that has shown excellent potential for affordable, low-temperature energy storage.
The battery has the added advantage of being based on globally abundant and affordable sodium (iron, nickel and manganese), a leap forward for green energy.
Murdoch University’s world leading research is changing the lives of these farmers, and their communities, forever. You’d hardly think microscopic bacteria on the roots of legumes could change the world, but it can. It’s called rhizobium. And what this little thing does is incredible.
No one understands this better than Professor John Howieson. He’s using rhizobium to raise plant productivity in developing countries and is renowned around the world.
Rhizobium takes the nitrogen in the air and turns it into a form plants can use. In effect, turning air into fertiliser and turning barren fields into flourishing paddocks for animals. It’s completely natural and, most importantly for these impoverished African farmers, it’s free.
Now they can keep their livestock alive through the dry season. This means they can buy medicines, clothe and school their children, and have a chance at breaking free from poverty.
It’s a feeling most travellers have experienced – cramps and nausea, or worse, diarrhoea and vomiting.
You may think it’s the contaminated water, but Professor Andrew Thompson knows it’s actually “Giardia,” the parasite causing agent of illnesses like “Bali Belly”. He’s an expert in parasitic diseases and heads Murdoch University’s research into the area at the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.
He’s also the reason why GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, funded Murdoch’s research into finding a treatment for this common sickness. Professor Thompson’s research involves changing and testing the chemical structure of drugs to find treatments for parasitic diseases. Once new indications have been developed the drugs are able to go to clinical trial.
This is exactly what he did for that nasty “Giardia”. The drug that treats it is now known as “Zentell” and can be purchased over the counter in South East Asia to treat Giardia in children.
There’s a good reason why wildlife officers and Australian Customs use Murdoch’s expertise in ancient and degraded DNA to assist in fighting the illegal trade in wildlife.
Dr Mike Bunce, the Lab’s head, is an expert in DNA isolation and characterisation. By applying DNA tools to wildlife forensics they help investigators prosecute people who smuggle and harvest protected and endangered species.
These smugglers and poachers attempt to gain from the trade of lucrative animals, such as Australia’s native parrots and cockatoos. So when customs seize the eggs of wildlife they come to the DNA Lab for answers. Here, DNA traces from the eggshells are analysed to identify species, enabling swift prosecution of the criminals.
Dr Bunce, and his team, has also developed DNA tests that identify wildlife paternity, indicating whether offspring have been legally bred or poached from the wild. His DNA research is applied across a range of scientific disciplines but assists wildlife officers helps Customs in the area of the conservation for protected and endangered species.
Some of the world’s biggest TV networks and advertisers sponsor Murdoch’s research into the future of
television programming and advertising. Disney-ABC, CBS, and NBC from the United States have all been
sponsors, as well as the music network MTV, sports network ESPN, and the Discovery Channel.
The Beyond Thirty Seconds research program is led by Professor Duane Varan, Director of Murdoch’s
Audience Labs and the Disney Media & Advertising Lab in the U.S.
While people are viewing content in the Audience Lab’s world-class observation rooms, Professor
Varan’s team study where they’re looking with pin point precision, and what emotions they’re feeling by
monitoring biometrics, such as skin conductance and heart rate, and facial expressions.
Over the past eight years, the project has conducted what is now, almost certainly, the world’s largest
lab-based exploration of new advertising and programming models for emerging media platforms.