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ANSTO – The perfect research partner

ANSTO – The perfect research partner

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) came into being in 1987. The organisation superseded the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) which was Australia’s first agency to be involved in atomic research.


Today, ANSTO provides valuable research services across many different industries and has a large facility ready to help businesses realise their pioneering dreams. Engineers, researchers and technical experts can partner with businesses to engage in incredible R&D utilising state-of-the-art technology within the ANSTO Innovation Precinct at Lucas Heights.

Australian nuclear research

Australia entered the realm of atomic research in the 1953 when the AAEC was established and the first nuclear reactor was built. This reactor was called HIFAR (High Flux Australian Reactor) and was the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Initially HIFAR was intended to be utilised for nuclear electricity production, however its power output was more suited to research.


For almost 50 years, from 1958 to 2007, HIFAR was central to Australia’s nuclear research activities. It was used to produce a range of radioisotopes for medicine, agriculture, industry and research, as well as research and analysis of unique materials. Plus, it irradiated silicon that was utilised by the high-performance computer industry.

Australian nuclear research

Alongside HIFAR, in 1961, the AAEC also built MOATA. This second reactor was primarily used for scientific training, but also became important for aircraft safety as it helped to test structural soundness of jet engine turbine blades. MOATA, which is an aboriginal word meaning “gentle-fire” or “fire-stick”, was decommissioned in 2009.


Currently, OPAL (Open Pool Australian lightwater reactor) is in operation at Lucas Heights and is central to the research activities undertaken at ANSTO and within the ANSTO Innovation Precinct. It is one of the top three reactors in the world and the government funded facility is open to the wider community.


ANSTO’s Cassandra Casey explains:


“People don’t realise just how important the Lucas Heights facility is to the Australian scientific community. We have the most significant number of science minds concentrated in this area and we are available to everyone. Local businesses can come and access services to help research and develop their innovations. We want to work with people who have new ideas.”

ANSTO partner success stories

The ANSTO Innovation Precinct is keenly focused on health, environment and sustainability. The partnering of great science capabilities with ingenious ideas creates new technologies that achieve real-world outcomes.


BioGill is an example of a successful business that ANSTO has supported. It started as a research project looking to develop a way to purify water. Through the research partnership, nanoparticle media technology was developed. The company now enjoys multi-million-dollar commercial success whilst also being involved in community projects in many third world countries where access to clean drinking water is limited.

Other research undertaken at ANSTO includes:


  • development of new antibiotics from the mucus found on frogs
  • reviewing the metabolism of different varieties of rice to determine nutrient value
  • analysis of compressed wood as a sustainable alternative to steel within the construction industry

Join the Innovation Precinct

As the ANSTO Innovation Precinct is both federally and state funded, the facility can be utilised by anyone. Local businesses are encouraged to make contact and to consider partnering on a new research project. Learn more about the ANSTO Innovation Precinct here


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Join the Innovation Precinct