Bacteria to boost oil recovery
That popular image of the oil strike, with its huge gushing plume, tends to mislead people about the ease of extracting oil from its underground reservoir. After the initial gush settles down, water is flushed through the reservoir to aid oil extraction. However, patches of low-permeability rock do not allow the flushing water entry and, where it manages to enter and pass through, oil droplets remain trapped in pores between the sand grains. As a result, much oil remains after the primary extraction. Some of this can be removed by surfactants.
Clouds may be largely water, but a vital ingredient is sulphur. Without it the constituent water droplets would have very few seed particles, or nuclei, to grow around. Wherever in the world scientists sample air, over land or ocean, the particles they find frequently contain this element. Sulphic acid particles are the most common; others are usually ammonium bisulphate or ammonium sulphate.
Satellite mapping of the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef covers 348,000 square kilometres and comprises 2,500 individual reefs. To protect this unique ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is progressively zoning sections of the Reef for scientific, commercial and recreational uses.
Evaporation from a 'dry' salt lake
For years on end you will never see water in Lake Frome - a huge dry salt lake in the arid north of South Australia. But measurements made by scientists indicate that 500 million cubic metres of groundwater evaporates annually through the lake's salt-enc
Colon cancer: investigating the roles of diet and hormones
One price that we inhabitants of Western countries pay for our affluence is an increased risk of getting the diseases associated with a fat-rich, high-kilojoule diet. As well as atherosclerosis and heart attacks, these include large-bowel cancer, which accounts for about 6 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
Milk for the lactose-intolerant
An enzyme derived from a selected strain of fungus is being used by a milk factory at Drouin, Vic, to produce milk powder suitable for the Asian market, where lactose intolerance is a widespread problem.
Australia's deep-water squid
Unlikely though it may first appear, squid are closely related to the more sedentary and more attractive oysters and scallops. Australian waters support large populations of squid, but little has been known about their distribution and habits.
Ant wars: flight and fight
The semi-arid saltbush plains around Deniliquin in south-western New South Wales seem an unlikely location for great battles. But, just under the surface of the soil there, dramatic episodes occur. Ants are the most abundant insect group in the semi-arid region. The seed-harvesters, in particular, are important consumers that can remove as much plant biomass from an area of pasture as the sheep grazing above.