A Cold Spray ZAP™ for rust-resistant steel

The reality of long-lasting, corrosion-resistant, coated steel products that can withstand harsh Australian conditions, is a step closer thanks to a collaboration drawing upon CSIRO science.

Whether it’s on the farm, in the city, or across a range of sectors, making fences and steel products that can stand the test of time, and the Australian environment, is a challenge.

Rising to this challenge, the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), Australian steel manufacturer, InfraBuild, and the national science agency CSIRO, have joined forces in a project to develop such corrosion-resistant steel products.

The project, made possible with $100,000 funding through IMCRC’s activate program, will modernise InfraBuild’s finishing process by introducing CSIRO’s solid state, low-cost additive Cold Spray ZAP™ technology.

CSIRO’s cold spray technology applies a high-strength, recycled corrosion-resistant coating to steel to protect it from damage and corrosion, particularly in soil.

“By integrating CSIRO’s Cold Spray ZAP™ technology in our manufacturing process, we will be able to manufacture longer-lasting, damage-resistant, coated steel products that have the ability to withstand aggressive environments, according to Bradley Taylor, Director of Technical at InfraBuild Wire.  “That will save our customers money over the full life of each product.”

CSIRO Research Director, Advanced Materials and Processing, Dr Kathie McGregor, says,  “CSIRO aims to accelerate sustainable manufacturing that is globally competitive, and achieved through collaboration with Australian industry.”

“This project will help us develop our Cold Spray ZAP™ technology into a leading-edge, commercially viable and scalable solution to manufacture corrosion-resistant steel products in Australia,” she said.

By employing the use of robotic coating application technology, InfraBuild and CSIRO will develop a fully automated digital manufacturing production line, improving productivity and increasing cost competitiveness.

Dr Matthew Young, IMCRC’s Manufacturing Innovation Manager, said IMCRC was delighted to be co-funding the innovative project.

“IMCRC is pleased to be contributing to the development of a scalable steel product that has wide ranging applications and the potential to benefit many sectors in Australia and beyond,” Dr Young said.

You can read more about this collaboration on the IMCRC website: IMCRC activate project to develop corrosion resistant steel fencing – IMCRC

Glowing orange and red wire in a warehouse.

Wire in production and storage at Infrabuild.

Bales of silver rust resistant fencing sitting in a warehouse.

CSIRO’s cold spray technology can be applied to increase the strength and resilience of a range of steel products.

Virtual ‘time travel’ enables study of precious woodlands

It’s now possible to ‘travel back in time’ and take a virtual walk through intact Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands thanks to a new tool developed with the help of CSIRO science.

A new virtual reality tool allows our researchers to ‘take a walk on the wild side’, and to experience and study the endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands before and after key events that have shaped them over time.

This tool or ‘immersive visualisation’ incorporates a virtual ecology that includes reproduction of plant and animal life and even the characteristic sounds of these settings, enabling CSIRO ecologists including Anna Richards and Jacqui Stol, to study this ecosystem like never before.

“There are very few places left in Australia where you can study healthy, intact ecosystems,” according to Anna. “These immersive landscapes have the potential to become important resources for the study and conservation of endangered ecologies.”

The tool enables the study of intact woodlands allowing researchers to accurately observe how environmental changes across time, seasons and events like land use, bushfires, climate change and other pressures have affected them.

This type of ‘time-travel’ in the name of research was made possible through a collaboration led by Monash University IT with CSIRO, Pennsylvania State University and Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Anna was a co-author on the work which was published in Landscape Ecology.

The Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands have significantly declined since the 1800s due to grazing from sheep and cattle, land clearing for agriculture, rural and urban developments as well as bushfire and climate impacts.

“Considering we can ‘see’ the landscape after it has been impacted by bushfires, this could be a vital tool for land managers and policy makers to explore and prepare for a changing future,” Anna says.

Gaining extra insights into the Ginninderra woodlands

The Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands at CSIRO Ginninderra are quite well known to local residents, Scout groups and community members, who have taken part in shrub planting events over the past five years.

“At Ginninderra, we are fortunate to have more than 100 ha of these woodlands ranging in size and the quality of their condition,” according to CSIRO ecologist and woodland expert Jacqui Stol.

“Most importantly in recent years we have been restoring and regenerating some of those woodland areas with the help of many community volunteers, the Aboriginal Green Army and ongoing work of our science team.  Together we have successfully reintroduced a shrub layer through a patchwork mosaic of plantings and those shrubs are flourishing and providing new habitat for our native woodland birds.”

“This virtual reality tool can help us to understand and continue the restoration work in the Ginninderra Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands,” Jacqui says.

White box trees in a green grassy woodland.

This image of White Box (Eucalyptus albens) Grassy Woodlands in Wallabadah, NSW helped the team to recreate a virtual landscape of intact endangered Australian Box Gum Grassy Woodlands. The woodlands at Ginninderra are very similar but with Yellow Box (E. melliodora) and Blakely’s Red Gum (E. blakelyi) as the primary tree species.

White, purple and yellow wildflowers, orchids and lilies in a diverse range of green plants.

Up to 60 species of native wildflowers, orchids, lilies and a diverse range of plants can be found in the Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.

Green shrubs and trees in dry woodlands.

Restoration of the shrub layer in the woodlands at one of the Ginninderra community planting sites.