Researchers from The Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (EMS) have been awarded $6.54 million in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for 16 projects across Engineering, Mathematics and Physics. This represents an outstanding achievement from our researchers, who have scooped half of the awarded projects to the University of Western Australia (UWA).
12 EMS researchers were awarded ARC Discovery grants, worth over $5 million. The ARC funding will contribute towards accurate climate change predictions, design tools to installing offshore wind and wave energy devices, achieving three dimensional tomographic reconstruction of rainfall, increasing the security and reliability of computer vision as well as advance knowledge in fundamental mathematics and physics, among other topics of national and international benefit.
School of Engineering:
Prof Yinong Liu – Approaching near-ideal strength for bulk amorphous metals
The potential impacts of the project include (1) the establishment of an innovative theory and design strategy for novel metal materials, (2) the creation of high strength phase transforming nanocrystallization strengthened amorphous metals of exceptional mechanical properties, and (3) the development of close-to-application technology for engineering fabrication of the materials. The concepts behind these metal materials are novel and untested in the history of physical metallurgy.
Dr Darren Rowland –Deep ocean thermodynamics and climate change
Climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions is acknowledged as the most important environmental factor affecting the future of the Earth. Thermodynamic data of saline water mixtures containing carbon dioxide are of crucial importance for accurate climate change predictions. The project will have an important impact on understanding our changing environment by providing this crucial data, facilitating both future accurate climate change modelling and greenhouse gas abatement strategies.
Prof Eric May – Next generation gas separations via innovative adsorption technologies
This project has the potential to deliver inexpensive gas separation processes able to increase the viability of developing large natural gas reserves, smaller sources of bio-methane, and industrial facilities for capturing carbon and/or noble gases from air. These developments will increase Australia's access to cheap supplies of natural gas, encourage the broader use of biomass, lower the carbon emissions of industrial processes, and efficiently recover high-value compounds only present at trace concentrations. The outcomes of this project will build upon Australia's reputation as a leader in the development of gas processing technologies able to be exported and used with even greater impact in larger markets such as China and the USA.
Prof Michael Johns – Breaking bad oilfield emulsions
This project will focus on using a natural treatment fluid (a solution of natural oil resin extract in CO2) to break problematic water-in-crude oil emulsions with no secondary environmental consequences. These water-in-crude oil emulsions are increasingly encountered during oil production at a conservatively estimated global cost of $26 billion p.a., with an estimated accumulation of 6 million cubic metres of unwanted water-in-crude oil emulsions awaiting a cost effective treatment option. As well as being expensive to fix, these stockpiled emulsions can cause severe environmental damage if containment fails. In Australia such oilfield emulsion problems are frequently encountered in both the Bass Strait and across the Carnarvon Basin.
Prof Arcady Dyskin –Constricted hydraulic fracture opening
Fracking is widely used for reservoir stimulation and seam gas extraction. Dimensions and opening of hydraulic fractures – the main factor determining the environmental impact, including groundwater contamination – are strongly affected by constriction caused by distributed bridges left after fracture propagation. Methods for accounting for the constriction in design and monitoring of hydraulic fractures allowing timely intervention will be developed. The development will assist in avoiding premature screen-out, securing improvement in lost frac services, preventing distribution of dangerous chemicals and increasing environmental safety of fracking and alleviating the public concern.
Prof David Huang – 3D tomographic reconstruction of rainfall using satellite signals
Leveraging existing microwave communication links of satellite systems, the proposed rainfall tomography will enable real-time observation of meteorological phenomena, e.g. tornado and downburst, thereby helping improve the understanding of many rainfall relevant phenomena. With the aid of advanced signal processing techniques, the proposed method will achieve 3D measurements with resolution and coverage unachievable before, paving the way for innovative water relevant applications such as hydrology and agriculture, and new findings in atmospheric research.
School of Physics, Mathematics and Computing:
Prof Ajmal Mian – Defense against adversarial attacks on deep learning in computer vision
The outcomes of this project will increase the security and reliability of computer vision by detecting, reporting and nullifying subtle perturbations to objects/images textures that are imperceptible to humans. Considering the increasing omnipresence of computer vision systems in our everyday lives, the outcomes of the project are expected to benefit the general public and industry on many fronts.
Ben Robson (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 7501