Elsa Antunes is a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in the College of Science & Engineering, James Cook University. She obtained her PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from James Cook University in 2018. Elsa’s PhD was focused on understanding the impact of microwave pyrolysis conditions on biochar properties produced from diverse biomass. Before joining James Cook University, Elsa was Head of Advanced Ceramics Department capitalising more than 10 years employment within industry undertaking research projects.

Elsa’s research is focused in the field of materials engineering, developing new materials and fabrication techniques for biomedical implants, investigating smart materials fabrication, understanding production of value-added products from biomass pyrolysis, and using biochar for water purification and resource recovery.

Current Research Projects:

  • 4D Printing of new Smart Materials
  • Exploring new Materials and fabrication Techniques for Biomedical Implants
  • 3D Printing Hybrid Rocket Fuel Grains
  • Production of value-added products from Biomass Pyrolysis
  • Investigating new Catalyst for biodiesel production from Biomass Pyrolysis
  • PFAS removal using Biochar produced from Biomass Pyrolysis
  • EG2010: Materials Science and Engineering (Level 2; TSV)
  • ME2512: Thermofluid Mechanics (Level 2; TSV)
  • ME3515: Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • Biomedical implants: new materials and fabrication methods
  • Nanomaterials: design new materials for new applications
  • Pyrolysis: production of value-added products while mitigating the environmental impact of biomass
  • Biochar applications: water purification and other value-added applications
  • 2018 to present - Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2014 to 2018 - PhD, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2018 - JCU Research Support Grant
  • 2018 - Reperio Innovation Award

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
  • Mahesh Koushik T and Dos Santos Antunes E (2023) Ceramic three-dimensional printing. In: Advanced Flexible Ceramics: Design, Properties, Manufacturing, and Emerging Applications. Advanced Ceramic Materials. Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 193-214
Conference Papers
  • Douglas J, Dada T, Duan A and Antunes E (2023) Sugarcane bagasse pyrolysis for green energy production. Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. In: ASSCT 2023: 44th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, 18-21 April 2023, Cairns, QLD, Australia

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 50+ research outputs authored by Dr Elsa Antunes from 2005 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

High shear fluid flow driving carbon foundry for advanced manufacturing

Indicative Funding
$196,712 over 3 years
The project aims to develop versatile continuous flow film microfluidic device technology by harnessing the contact electrification generated by sub-micron high shear topological flow, for fabricating novel nano-carbon material for which current methods are ineffective or of limited utility. This technology incorporates optional external electric and magnetic fields, and textured surfaces in the rapidly rotating tube, which will allow exquisite control, with real time monitoring, on reforming of carbon into functional material with tunable properties and fabricating hetero-structures of nano-carbon. Understanding their fundamental properties will be targeted for leveraging them in applications to generate new processes and products.
Elsa Antunes, Colin Raston and Qin Li (College of Science & Engineering, Flinders University and Griffith University)
Nano-carbon; Composite materials; Advanced Manufacturing; Biomass Processing; Carbon materials

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Restoration and Adaptation Science (RRAP)

RRAP CAD-01: Coral propagation and deployment

Indicative Funding
$439,000 over 4 years (administered by Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Deployment device shape and material can considerably affect the growth rates and survival of recruits, but the optimal physical properties of deployment devices to maximise the survival and growth of a diversity of corals are not yet clear. For example, crevice size is an important physical factor that influences the survivorship of coral recruits and juveniles. Spatial structure of settlement surfaces can provide refugia from algae and release from grazing. The first part of the project consists of selecting potential device materials, porosities and textures that will be assessed for fouling and recruit survival. These will be first tested in the SeaSim and the most promising candidates in the field in across a range of environments and environmental gradients. The second part of the project consists of optimization and scaling up of the fabrication technology to produce millions of devices.
Elsa Antunes and Breiana Whitehead (College of Science & Engineering)
Coral; Reef Restoration; coral substrates; coral propogation; coral development

Queensland Government - Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship

Identifying and eliminating future risk from regional Queensland wastewater treatment operations through biosolids technology innovation

Indicative Funding
$180,000 over 3 years, in partnership with the Townsville City Council ($289,436)
This fellowship will investigate emergent contaminant content in biosolids, technological solutions to mitigate its impact and how these new technologies can prevent future emergent contaminant related disasters. Six North Queensland city councils are investing in this research project to implement sustainable biosolids management technologies in wastewater plants to mitigate environmental pathogenesis and impact of new emergent pollutants in the region. This research project is aligned with two of the research priorities of JCU: Tropical Ecosystems and Environment and Industries, and Economies in the Tropics. This project will leverage new funding applications in the field of pollutants mitigation and agricultural industry.
Elsa Antunes, Madoc Sheehan, Anna Whelan, Shaun Johnston, Patrick Cannon, Lynne Powell, Gary Murphy, Troy Pettiford and Rob Fearon (College of Science & Engineering, Townsville City Council, Burdekin Shire Council, Mackay Regional Council, Cairns City Council, Isaac Regional Council, Whitsunday Regional Council and QLD Water)
biosolids management; emergent contaminants; Wastewater; Biosolids; Circular Economy

NQM Gold 2 Pty Ltd - Contract Research


Indicative Funding
$15,000 over 1 year
This project with the Pajingo Mine involves thesis students solving industry related problems. The main objective is to optimise the production of gold covering 5 main aspects: - Investigate chemical additives to enhance the gold leaching - Determine the relationship between leaching rate and slurry density - Investigate chemical additives that could be used to reduce the slurry viscosity - Determine the relationship between particle size and viscosity for slurry with a P80 of 38microns down to a P80 of 10microns - Investigate ultimate settled density of tailings in a Tailings Storage Facility for tailings initially deposited at 40% solids and 60% solids
Elsa Antunes (College of Science & Engineering)
Gold extraction; Modelling; Slurry dewatering; Process optimisation; Gold adsorption

NQM Gold 2 Pty Ltd - Contract Research


Indicative Funding
$15,000 over 1 year
This project with Minjar Gold involves thesis students solving industry related problems. Therefore, the funding provided by Minjar Gold in mainly to cover analysis that will be performed at the AAC. The main objective is to optimise the production of gold covering 3 main aspects: (1) exploring alternatives to slurry dewatering; (2) investigating pump capacity within Processing Plant and suggest alternatives; (3) investigating and modelling the average slurry residence time in the adsorption tanks in different scenarios.
Elsa Antunes in collaboration with Sakthivel Prakash, Tewodros Kassa Dada and Matthew Drane (College of Science & Engineering)
Gold Extraction; Process optimisation; Modelling; Slurry dewatering; Gold Absorption

Minjar Gold Pty Ltd - Contract Research


Indicative Funding
$14,500 over 1 year
The main objective of this thesis is to explore possible ways of mitigating issues associated with the presence of clay in a Carbon in Pulp (CIP) plant. It is hypothesized that heat treatment is an effective way of eliminating these issues as well as providing several subsequent benefits such as improvements to grinding and recovery. Yet, the efficacy of heat treatment is largely determined by the characteristics unique to each clay species. Thus, preliminary testing using equipment in the James Cook University Analytical Centre such as the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) is necessary. This will provide the optimal heat treatment temperature, where the impacts of the heat treatment on viscosity in these conditions can be determined. Furthermore, secondary benefits such as improvements to recovery and grinding will also be quantified. This method allows for a thorough understanding of the impacts of heat treatment and will determine whether it is an effective approach to mitigating issues associated with the presence of clay.
Elsa Antunes in collaboration with Chelsea Dick, Zachary Timbs and Luke Hand (College of Science & Engineering)
Carbon in Pulp; Clay; Gold Extraction

Australian Dental Research Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Development and characterization of a Novel Zirconia Implant material with enhanced mechanical properties and bio-compatibility

Indicative Funding
$5,450 over 1 year
Zirconia dental implants have been recently developed as a viable, aesthetic, non-metallic alternative for dental implant fabrication compared to the titanium implants. However, significant challenges have been encountered in acceptance of zirconia implants in clinical practice due to the low fracture resistance inherent within the zirconia material that can lead to structural failure of implant. This has created a need for further research into its crystalline composition and forms to further enhance the mechanical properties of zirconia making it more suitable for dental implants. This study will assess the mechanical and chemical properties of the novel zirconia material developed in our lab and evaluates the effect of various surface modifications on its mechanical properties. Furthermore, cellular interactions that play a vital role in wound healing after placement of implant will be ascertained to promote successful implant osseointegration of novel zirconia dental implants.
Dileep Sharma, Catherine Miller and Elsa Antunes (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and College of Science & Engineering)
Implants; Prosthodontics; Biomechanics; Mechanical Properties; Zirconia; Surface Modification

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These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Graphene based supercapacitors from renewable sources (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Pyrolysis of Biosolids for removal of emerging contaminants (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Load bearing zirconia scaffolds for bone tissue engineering (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Rocket Systems Numerical Design & Optimisation (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Developing biochar for resource recovery and pollution mitigation (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Investigation of Biomass derived Biochar for degradation of Pharmaceutical Pollutants (Masters , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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