PFAS and Fluorine-Free Firefighting Foams: Performance vs Environment and Health
by Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski
The firefighting foam industry is in turmoil. With the decision to phase out the production of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and the subsequent restrictions on PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) by the Stockholm Convention, the industry has transitioned to either the fluorine-free foams (F3) or shorter-fluorocarbon-chain (C6) PFAS foams.
There are opponents and supporters of the two formulations.
On one hand, PFAS foams do not biodegrade and persist in the environment, a situation that poses unacceptable risk to large parts of the community and several environmental NGOs.
On the other hand, while fluorine-free foams satisfy a range of international standards, they do not pass the US military specification, which makes them unacceptable for defence use.
For civilian purposes, fluorine-free foams require higher application rates and demand careful redesigning of the suppression systems.
So where does this leave us in selecting a firefighting foam for a practical application? Do we want the millions of plane passengers each day and petrochemical plants protected by the most environmentally friendly firefighting option or the most effective at suppressing fire?
Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research and Innovation at Charles Darwin University. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Chemist with a distinguished record as a researcher, inventor and academic leader.
He holds a DSc in Fire Safety Science and Engineering (Newcastle), PhD and MEng in Chemical Engineering (Montreal, McGill), and undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Geophysics (Calgary). He has expertise in process safety, fire and explosion safety, extractive metallurgy and environment protection, especially in formation of toxic products in combustion processes.
Professor Dlugogorski is a Fellow of Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Combustion Institute, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Engineers Australia and Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He is Immediate Past Chairman of International Association for Fire Safety Science.
2019 Professorial Lectures
Changing life trajectories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families: The Best Start to Life
By Professor Sue Kildea and Associate Professor Yvette Roe from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, College of Nursing and Midwifery
When: 3 September 2019
The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre has been established to honour the memory and vision and continue the important work of the late Molly Wardaguga, Burarra Elder, Aboriginal Midwife, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker and Founding Member of the Malabam Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land. This presentation will provide an overview of her life and goals and explain how the new research centre is aspiring to honour Molly’s vision. Sue and Yvette are the co-directors and in line with Molly’s ways of knowing and doing, they are working side-by-side as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies by doing research that will assist babies to get the best start to life.
Key to their approach is working in collaboration with communities on their priorities. One such priority is when babies are born too early: preterm birth. Preterm birth is a World Health Organisation priority area requiring innovation and research. Rates for Aboriginal babies have not changed in over 10 years and the Northern Territory has some of the highest rates in Australia. Fortunately, this team wants to share with you the work they have done with two Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and a tertiary hospital in Southeast Queensland. Published this year in one of the Lancet journals they have reduced preterm birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by almost 50%. This extraordinary work has also led to the development of their innovative RISE Framework to support widespread scaleup.
The RISE Framework was built on research conducted in the Northern Territory which also saw significant redesign of maternity services. It has four pillars to drive important reform: (1) Redesign the health service; (2) Invest in the workforce; (3) Strengthen families; and, (4) Embed Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community governance and control.
2018 Professorial Lectures
Future sustainability, innovation and marketing
Who: Professor Steven Greenland - Professor in Marketing, College of Business & Law
When: 23 October 2018
Unsustainable business activities, rising global population, as well as growth in consumption and convenience seeking behaviour generate complex environmental and social issues.
The most urgent include pollution, climate change, water and food insecurity, and the non-communicable disease epidemic.
Innovative products and practices that serve both organisational and consumer self-interests, as well as wider social and environmental goals, are keys to resolving these issues.
In this presentation, Professor Greenland encapsulates the key sustainability challenges confronting the Northern Territory, Australia and the world today. He brings to life a variety of sustainability themes using his research on education, manufacturing innovation, agricultural water management, energy conservation, as well as the marketing of harmful products. The complexity surrounding sustainability and innovation is explored, including the barriers to innovation adoption, as well as unintended consequences that hinder positive social and environmental outcomes.
Watch the Future sustainability, innovation and marketing lecture on YouTube.
Indigenous Advantage: can northern Australia lead through innovation
Who: Professor Ruth Wallace, Dean – College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, Charles Darwin University and Director – Northern Institute
When: 11 July 2018
Indigenous Leader Eddie Fry has challenged us to think about a fifty-year plan and ‘the Indigenous Estate lifted beyond current perceptions of what is possible in Indigenous Australia’.
This presentation discussed the future of northern Australia as a leader in understanding, as well as partnered approaches to economic prosperity, culturally engaged leadership and social engagement. We ask if the people and institutions of northern Australia draw on deep expertise in innovation, knowledge of our region and its histories, recognition of land and sea rights to turn change into adaptive pathways, rights into intergenerational strength and sustainability and misadvantage to advantage.
The people of Northern Australia have the opportunity to be leaders in innovation and change management. It’s time to ask what is possible and how will we be a part of the future.
Watch Indigenous Advantage: can northern Australia lead through innovation on YouTube.
2017 Professorial Lectures
From leaves to ecosystems: understanding the impacts and management of global change
Who: Professor Lindsay Hutley, Professor of Environmental Science
When: October 25, 2017
Professor Lindsay Hutley is a plant physiologist with expertise in plant ecology, ecophysiology, ecohydrology, land-atmosphere exchange and soil science.
Professor Hutley's lecture focused on the research programs underway at CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods that aim to understand and predict the effects of human impacts on North Australian ecosystems.
These themes will be illustrated by describing the ecology, plant physiology and biogeochemical cycles (eg carbon, water, nitrogen) that operate in North Australian ecosystems, in particular the vast savanna ecosystems.
ow will Northern landscapes change to increased climate variability or land use? Are they resilient and at what stage do we reach “tipping points”, where ecosystems may flip into another state?
A Dialysis Machine in Every Remote Community: Evidence of failure, or an essential step towards closing the gap?
Who: Professor Alan Cass, Director, Menzies School of Health Research
When: Tuesday 9 May 2017
In November 2000, Sotheby’s auctioned four collaborative paintings created by senior Pintupi Luritja men and women from the communities of Kintore, Mt Liebig and Kiwirrkurra. Their intent was to raise funds to set up a dialysis service in Kintore.
Why did these Aboriginal people give such a high priority to dialysis treatment for kidney disease? Amongst Indigenous Australians, kidney disease is heaviest in the young and middle-aged. Considering that patterns of health and wellbeing are shaped by multiple dimensions of inequality, Professor Cass asks how can we move from aggregate statistics to explore disease burden according to gender, socioeconomic status, geography and ethnicity?
During a whole life, what are the key stages when the evidence suggests intervention will make a difference? What should we measure and monitor to help target efforts in disease prevention and management?
2016 Professorial Lectures
Being Afraid Effectively: Cross-cultural perspectives on disaster risk reduction
Who: Professor Douglas Paton, Professor of Psychology, School of Psychological and Clinical Sciences, Charles Darwin University.
When: Tuesday 8 Nov 2016
Recognition of the projected increase in the number of disasters over the coming decades has highlighted a need for disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies. One component of comprehensive DRR is readiness.
Following a discussion of why readiness levels have remained low (even when people acknowledge the risks), Professor Paton introduces the community engagement theory and summarises its ability to account for readiness across a range of hazards.
He then discusses the implications for theory development and testing arising from recognising that countries differ with regard to their socio-cultural contexts. Drawing on research in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia and Portugal, Professor Paton considers the implications for the development of a universal theory.
The Secret Life of Microbes
Who: Professor Karen Gibb, School of Environment, Charles Darwin University./
When: Tuesday 26 July 2016
Most people associate bacteria with food poisoning, unsanitary conditions and disease, or those unpleasant pink dots on forgotten food at the back of the fridge. We also tend to think a disease is caused by a single species that invades its host and overcomes its defences.
Professor Gibb will discuss how far we have come from the view that disease is caused by ‘bad air’ that spontaneously generates ‘germs’. Thanks to DNA technologies, microbiologists are emerging from the world of culture plates and microscopes. We can now talk about microbial ecologists who use these new technologies to study microbial ‘landscapes’, and in so doing have discovered the incredible biodiversity and function of bacteria in even the most inhospitable environments.
This relatively new field of research is providing exciting insights into how bacteria form ‘cities’ that communicate and respond to changes in the environment, and how they act as early warning sentinels of change. Professor Gibb will also draw on research to reveal how bacteria are helping us to understand our local environment, with a particular focus on Darwin Harbour.
Download Lecture's booklet (PDF 3.8MB)
Watch The Secret Life of Microbes on YouTube.
Who: Professor Brian Mooney, Head of the School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Charles Darwin University.
When: April 19, 2016
Professor Mooney argues that beauty is an objective feature of reality and that the dominant view that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is incoherent.
Our love of Beauty (like love itself) may be ultimately mysterious, nonetheless loving Beauty involves the desire to understand it. His lecture first critiqued the central arguments of proponents of the ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ (subjectivism) position; and then arguing that contemporary aesthetics (particularly in the visual arts) need to re-evaluate artworks in the context of a broad conception of Beauty and to integrate with the notion of natural Beauty.
The second half of the lecture explored some conditions that may help undergird an objectivist account of beauty. Finally, questions are raised about the role of pleasure, taste and comparative judgments of Beauty in regard to artworks.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 491KB)
2015 Professorial Lectures
Polymers, Tablets and Tissue – The Third Way in Spectroscopy for Process Monitoring
Who: Professor Suresh Thennadil, Director of the North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas.
When: November 10, 2015
This lecture discussed the range of NIR spectra applications not only in the chemical industries, but also in its wide range of applications in medical diagnostics, fruit and vegetable grading, characterising pharmaceutical suspensions for monitoring quality, and potentially counterfeit drug detection.
The development of these techniques is important for many industries such as oil and gas, mining and even the agricultural industry. Process monitoring techniques are not only important for process control and optimisation, but also for condition monitoring, which can be vital to give adequate warnings in cases of malfunction due to deterioration of equipment.
Download the Lecture's booklet (DF 700KB)
Watch the Third Way in Spectroscopy for Process Monitoring on YouTube.
Living and working in conservative times: Is there a role for academic activism?
Who: Professor Sue Shore, Professor in Education, International Graduate Centre for Education, Charles Darwin University
When: September 22, 2015
The issues discussed in this lecture draw on my years of engagement with learners, workers and communities across vocational, community and higher education. Much of this work has investigated responses to educational disadvantage at the same time as I have challenged the judgmental labels assigned to poor and marginalised learners.
A claim that one is working for ‘social justice’ must work with these entanglements. The recent focus on growth and prosperity through regional development in Northern Australia provides some context for this view. School systems often guide our understanding of learning, yet a substantial amount of learning occurs between adults, in workplaces, between professional agencies, in communities and on the streets.
Moreover, learning is central to regional development but the compulsion of metropolitan centres to assert ownership over defining regional problems and how they should be solved, is rarely examined. Academics working in these spaces are often asked to engage in evidence- based research to resolve complex issues, yet that engagement involves working with increasingly conservative policy mandates and under-resourced community and industry groups.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 300KB)
Watch Is there a role for academic activism? on Youtube.
Global Instabilities: 101 years after the commencement of World War I
Who: Professor Wayne Cristaudo, Professor of Political Science, Charles Darwin University
When: June 16, 2015
Far from being “the war to end wars”, 101 years after the outbreak of World War I, the precariousness of our geopolitical situation today still owes much to a number of the forces that led into that devastating war, as well as to its fallout in World War II, the Cold War and beyond.
This lecture considered our contemporary geopolitical situation in light of that cataclysmic event that forever changed the world. It will explore the geopolitical differences between 1914 and today, and it will consider the “worst case”scenario for peace in our time.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1MB)
Watch Global Instabilities on Youtube.
2014 Professorial Lectures
Drains, mains and pipelines: a civil engineer’s journey through our hidden infrastructure
Who: Professor Charlie Fairfield, Power and Water Corporation Chair in Sustainable Engineering
When: July 29, 2014
Civilisations have risen on the back of mankind’s ability to supply safe drinking water and most crucially dispose of wastewater and sewage safely. But these days pipes, ducts, conduits, drains and sewers not only carry water and remove waste, increasingly they carry data over fibre optic links.
In the developed world, the true impact of the digital age on our need for ducted infrastructure is yet to be seen. As it is, the underground utilities and pipeline infrastructure in the UK alone is estimated to be worth about £500 billion (A$900 billion).
In this lecture Professor Fairfield focuses on the modern methods used to clean sewers and drains. In particular, he concentrates upon our engineering efforts to design the next generation of prototype sewers which will be capable of resisting the combined effects of our tendencies to throw anything down them from dead animals and tree roots to nappies and even items as weird as television sets and the high-pressure water-jets used to clean them.
Strategies for the future of our essential utilities are then pondered from a range of viewpoints: philosophical, political, economic, environmental, and technical.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1.5MB)
Watch Drains, mains and pipelines on Youtube.
2013 Professorial Lectures
Making Australian Threatened Species legislation more effective and efficient
Who: Professor Stephen Garnett, Professor of Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University
When: September 17, 2013
Each year, millions of dollars are spent mitigating the impacts of development on threatened or migratory Australian species. It is proposed that the majority of this expenditure does little for threatened species it aims to benefit in terms of mitigating threats or moving the taxa towards a safer conservation status.
Among the reasons for this failure are inaccurate lists and, until recently, a failure to deal strategically with threatening processes, especially if the principal threats operate elsewhere. However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List guidelines, which are used commonly to guide listing of taxa as threatened, offer the opportunity to be far more sophisticated about the listing process.
In particular, the different criteria for listing under the guidelines lend themselves to separating those taxa affected by localised site development from those suffering more diffuse threats, or threats at other sites for which other management is necessary. Improvements in the listing processes and modifications to legislation could improve the targeting of threatened species investment while relieving business of the need to undertake irrelevant interventions, often at great expense.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1.2MB)
Our Asian Centuries: provenance and proximity
Who: Professor Sharon Bell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University
When: July 30, 2013
The recently released and much publicised Australian Government White Paper Australia in the Asian Century is a detailed response to Asia’s ascent as ‘the defining feature of the 21st century’. The ‘Asian century’ is seen as an Australian and regional opportunity, as ‘the tyranny of distance is being replaced by the prospects of proximity’.
In this lecture, Professor Bell draws on more than 30 years’ personal and professional engagement with Asia to interrogate the concept of ‘proximity’. It is argued that Australia’s engagement with Asia has been, and continues to be, characterised by both inclusion and exclusion; where hostility and fear as well as generosity and compassion have powerfully defined Australia’s place in the region.
Where, over time, complex flows of people, knowledge and culture have been both embraced and disrupted; and where the perspective from Northern Australia has often looked very different to that from the South.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1.4MB)
Watch Our Asian Centuries on Vimeo.
Full employment abandoned: the triumph of ideology over evidence
Who: Professor Bill Mitchell, Chair in Economics and Director for the Centre of Full Employment and Equity, Charles Darwin University
When: June 4, 2013
After World War II, the advanced economies adopted the policy goal of full employment and actively used fiscal and monetary policy to ensure that goal was achieved. This policy framework supported sustained economic growth and also reduced income and wealth inequalities. Importantly, it also supported a reduction in world poverty and the economic transformation of the poorer nations.
The corporate sector and its conservative allies in politics, however, did not support this policy framework. They preferred a larger pool of unemployed people to use as a threat against wage demands. Events in the 1970s (OPEC oil shocks) provided the circumstances where the conservative paradigm gained the policy ascendancy. Well-funded neo- liberal think tanks and right-wing multilateral agencies, such as the IMF and the World Bank, fed the media with the conservative narrative, which successfully dominated the values debate, stripped the government of its political capacity to pursue public purpose and demonised the most disadvantaged citizens.
Significantly, the rise of neo-liberalism undermined economic development in the poorest nations. Poor countries such as Timor-Leste are now trapped in a vice of unjustifiable fiscal austerity. The reality is that the political transformation is not supported by evidence, but demonstrates the triumph of a power elite pursuing its narrow ideological interest at the expense of a shared economic prosperity.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 638KB)
Watch Full employment abandoned on Vimeo.
2012 Professorial Lectures
The Preservation of Biodiversity and Maintenance of Ecosystems in a Changing World
Who: Professor Sue Carthew - Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and the Environment.
When: November 2012
One of the biggest challenges facing Australia and, indeed, the world is the preservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem functioning. Changes to our natural environments are increasing at an alarming rate, and Australia is no exception.
In this lecture, Professor Carthew outlined some of the issues we currently face in relation to biodiversity loss and habitat alteration, and discuss some of the research she had been conducting on this topic with various students and colleagues. She focused on how habitat fragmentation influences community composition, population persistence and connectivity in small arboreal and terrestrial mammals.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1.3MB)
The Myths We Live By: Reframing History for the 21st Century
Who: Professor Giselle Byrnes - Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Law, Business and Arts.
When: July 2012
In 1990, the British Marxist historian Raphael Samuel − founder of the History Workshop movement, which is described as 'history from below' or the study of working-class life − published with Paul Thompson a small but important book entitled The Myths We Live By (1990).
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 235 KB)
Watch The Myths We Live By on Youtube.
Mrs Bach and the Cello Suites
Who: Professor Martin W. B. Jarvis - Emeritus Artistic Director of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.
When: April 2012
The words 'hidden from history' are aptly used by feminist writer Anne Laurence to describe the legacy of 18th Century women.
Among these invisible women stands Anna Magdalena Bach1 – her accomplishments and contributions to music eclipsed by that of her great husband Johann Sebastian Bach.
Download the Lecture's booklet (PDF 1.5MB)