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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 11

I The Present Energy Economy

II Australian Energy Consumption

III Research And Development
i Electrical Research Board
ii Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
iii National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council
iv National Energy Advisory Council

IV Coal

V Oil And Natural Gas

VI Solar Energy

VII Nuclear Energy

VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass

IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution

X Manufactured Gas

XI Industrial Process Heat



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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization


CSIRO began research on coal in 1949 at Ryde NSW, where the Division of Fossil Fuels is at present located. In conjunction with the Joint Coal Board and Australian Coal Industries Research Laboratories Ltd (ACIRL), work was undertaken to determine the characteristics of a coal seam prior to mining.

By the 1970s, when Australia was emerging as the world's largest exporter of coal, it became clear that environmental pollution due to fly ash emissions from smoke stacks was becoming a problem that was a potential threat to exports. The technology of electrostatic precipitation was too poorly understood to be able to collect fly ash sufficiently effective to comply with smoke emission regulations. This gap in knowledge was filled by a CSIRO team, to the considerable benefit of the coal export industry. The team, led by Potter and Paulson, developed a technique for reliably estimating the design parameters for a projected precipitator, using observations obtained from a scaled-down coal combustion furnace. This new technology was taken up by the industry and by 1980 two counterparts of the CSIRO combustion facility had been built in Japan. It is now possible to design an effective electrostatic precipitator using routine analyses of each coal and its ash.

It has always been important to know the ash content of a coal. A big improvement in the method of determining this came about in the early 1980s, with the development of on-line coal analysis, a field in which Australia has become internationally recognised through the work of scientists and engineers at The Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), CSIRO, the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (University of Queensland), The Australian Mineral Development Laboratories (AMDEL), and Mineral Control Instrumentation Pty. Ltd. By 1987 some 33 Coal-scan Ash Monitors were in use in four countries, working either directly through the coal conveyor or on a sample by-line. They operate by comparing the difference between coal and its ash for transmission and scattering of gamma rays. Later the principle was adapted for use with neutrons and X-rays, which led to on-line analysis of slurries in the coal washery, resulting in a 10 per cent increase in output.

Solar energy

One of CSIRO's most successful technology-based R&D programs was its solar energy utilisation work, initiated by Morse in 1953 at its Central Experimental Workshops at Maribyrnong, Victoria. This developed into the Division of Mechanical Engineering at Highett, where an enthusiastic and competent team of engineers and scientists succeeded in laying the foundations for, and fostering the development of, a new industry to manufacture solar water heaters. In 1987 the installed value of its products exceeded $50 million per annum and it is exporting both hardware and technology to a number of countries. A more detailed account of this work is given later in this Chapter. (See p 802).

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Atomic Energy Commission; Australian Coal Industries Research Laboratories Ltd (A.C.I.R.L.); Australian Mineral Development Laboratories; CSIRO; CSIRO Central Experimental Workshops; CSIRO Division of Fossil Fuels; CSIRO Division of Mechanical Engineering; Joint Coal Board; Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre; Mineral Control Instrumentation Pty Ltd

People in Bright Sparcs - Morse, R. N.; Paulson, C. A.; Potter, E. C.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 785 - 786, Online Edition 2000
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