2013 Rio Tinto Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation

Mill mapper keeps mines working.

Across Australia giant crushers and grinding mills are smashing up rocks to extract the minerals. These machines typically consume 60 per cent of a mine’s electricity. And when their grinders wear out, it can cost the mine $100,000 an hour in downtime. 

The performance of these machines can literally make or break a mine but monitoring the condition of these machines was slow and dangerous work requiring someone to climb inside and make up to ten measurements.
Curtin researchers thought there was a better way and created a three-dimensional laser system that measures 10 million points or more in just 30 minutes.

Scanalyse, the company they founded, now sells the technology to dozens of companies around the world. 

Scanalyse/Outotec wins the 2013 Australian Museum Rio Tinto Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation for the creation of MillMapper and CrushMapper.

The two systems use 3D laser imaging to map the internal wear of the crushers and grinders, allowing operators to make better decisions about maintenance and repair—improving efficiency, safety and saving big money.

“Scanalyse illustrates a successful path from research to implementation,” the Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth said. “What started as a work of inquiry at Curtin University in 2004 has been very capably adapted into a large-scale commercial environment,” he said.

Before MillMapper—first tested at Alcoa’s Wagerup processing plant—the only way to assess the condition of a mineral miller’s lining was to shut down the machine and send in a worker with a measuring gauge. This was dangerous, time-consuming and often produced unreliable results.

Founder company Scanalyse Pty Ltd was purchased in March 2013 by Finnish mining giant Outotec. It remains based in the Perth suburb of Bentley and has rolled out its technology across the world, including South-East Asia, Mongolia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe.

The two other finalists are: using car tyres to make steel; and, inventing tools to shape light.

Sydney company OneSteel and Professor Veena Sahajwalla from the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the University of New South Wales were recognised for their implementation of a process whereby coking coal used in electric arc furnace steel-making can be replaced by old car tyres that would otherwise end up as landfill.
CUDOS at University of Sydney and Sydney company Finisar Australia were recognised for their development of The WaveShaper. Originally developed as a research device in an industry linkage grant, it is now sold to laboratories and has transformed the way optics researchers perform their experiments worldwide.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, science journalism and communication, and school science. This year the 17 sponsored prizes include awards for agriculture, defence, infectious diseases and innovative use of technology.

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Kea Lambert , Project Officer, Eureka Prizes
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