Good vibrations for Flinders inventor

Arkwright blog
Professor John Arkwright with the fibre-optic catheter successfully developed for gastrointestinal research.

A Flinders innovation which helps monitor some of the human body’s core functions could also make submarines run better.

The sophisticated fibre-optic catheter developed by Flinders University researchers, dubbed the “hubble space telescope” of gastroenterology, has found a new application – traversing the pipework of submarines.

South Australian Premier’s Professorial Research Fellow in Biomedical Engineering John Arkwright’s award-winning technology was originally developed to sense pressure in the human gut.

It turns out that Professor Arkwright’s device can be used to pressure test ship’s pipes in much the same manner as it does the human “piping” system.

The details of the fascinating crossover technology have been showcased as part of an “Innovation Pitchfest” at the this month’s Pacific 2015 maritime exposition in Sydney.

Developed by Professor Arkwright and Flinders Medical Centre Associate Professor Phil Dinning, the technology was designed for real-time monitoring of the human gastrointestinal tract.

It has moved to clinical trials work on colonic motility, helping to solve incontinence, constipation and other bowel conditions. While a patient is awake and mobile, the technology is able to record, over an extended period of time, pressures deep inside the gastrointestinal tract.

“We’re finding the technology can transfer fairly seamlessly to other sectors such as this,” says Professor Arkwright at his Flinders at Tonsley laboratory this week.

“In submarines, it could be used to reduce noise and vibration issues and even to isolate leaks.

“It would be great to see it transfer from medical research to defence or mining applications.”

Research and development personnel at Osborne-based ASC Ltd near Port Adelaide are working with Flinders to adapt the system to submarine pipes.

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