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News

New science for bubble trouble

CSIRO : 24 July, 2000  (New Product)
CSIRO scientists have found a solution to bubble trouble that has plagued Australian industry for years. CSIRO has developed computer software called StreamTone that can deliver the best bubbles for just about any biotechnology, mining or manufacturing application.
'In baked foods, the right bubbles can mean the difference between a satisfying crunch and a tooth-breaking experience,' says Dr Richard Manasseh of CSIRO Thermal and Fluids Engineering.

'In industry, bubbles are often too big, or too few, starving industrial chemical reactions of essential oxygen or other gases and wasting millions in lost production.

'Bubbles also keep alive the hard working bacteria that clean up city sewage and fish living in home aquariums,' he says.

'At home if the bubbles stop you can see the problem and save your goldfish but until now there has been no reliable way of directly checking industrial bubble production. The only way was to guess.

'Many industrial liquids are opaque and in some cases are molten-metal, making cameras or delicate probes useless.

'The secret behind StreamTone is the way it can identify different bubbles by their sound.

'Big bubbles create low-frequency sounds while small bubbles emit high-frequency sounds - like big bells and small bells. As bubbles get larger, the tone of their sounds gets lower.

'Through listening to these sounds we have learned to analyse mixtures of gas and liquid,' he says.

StreamTone technology accepts any acoustic signal and its acoustic principle ensures it performs despite fouling, noise, chemicals, high temperatures or pressures.

'We can generate a feedback signal tailored to each client's application, which means it is now possible to automate many bubbly processes that currently must be expensively tuned, literally... by ear,' says Dr Manasseh.

'StreamTone has successfully worked in a bio-reactor making genetically engineered hormones and further trials are underway in a waste-water treatment plant.'

'Bubbles have been telling us their troubles all along, all we had to do was to tune in to what they were saying,' he says.
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