University of Newcastle researcher Professor Eric Kennedy and his team have received Australian Government funding of $360,000 to develop an energy-efficient way to transform fluorinated greenhouse gases into valuable and environmentally-friendly products.
Professor Kennedy’s project is one of a $4.6 million suite of Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grants awarded to the University of Newcastle this week.
“There is a growing stockpile of waste fluorine containing synthetic greenhouse gases, which are used in fridges, air conditioners and other household products across Australia and the world. These gases can be released into the atmosphere and pose a significant environmental hazard,” Professor Kennedy, Director of the University’s Priority Research Centre for Energy, said.
“Rather than destroy the gases, this research aims to develop a new technology that will reduce the emission of fluorinated greenhouse gases and convert the gases into a useful compound. The process is unique as it does not destroy the greenhouse gas, but converts it into a useful compound, which can then be sold.”
Also announced by the ARC this week, Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski and Associate Professor Marian Radny received $310,000 to explore how toxic pollutants are formed in fires that include halogenated chemicals, to guide the development of better storage practices.
“Recent large fires of industrial chemicals in Australia have led to significant environmental pollution, including subsoil pollution. In addition to improving storage practices, our results will find immediate application in training fire brigades in their response to chemical fires,” Professor Dlugogorski said.
Dr Michael Stockenhuber and his team received a $235,000 ARC grant to develop an environmentally-friendly process to create ethylene, an ingredient needed to produce polyethylene.
“Ethylene is a major industrial chemical used in the production of polyethylene, however ethane, one of the sources for the production of ethylene, is limited to a few natural gas sources. Other production methods are quite energy intensive. We intend to develop a process that reacts two greenhouse gases to form ethylene and create minimal carbon dioxide emissions.”
Further Newcastle grants announced by the ARC included:
• $300,000 to Professor Scott Sloan in Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) funding to establish a national facility for in-situ testing of soft soils
• $180,000 in LIEF funding to Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski to establish a chemical research facility to develop new technologies in explosives, pollution reduction and energy storage
• $374,000 in Discovery Early Career Researcher Award funding to Dr Christopher Gordon to develop a technology to improve quality and reduce chemical waste in pharmaceutical production
• $375,000 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award funding to Dr Yuen Yong to address problems associated with the design and control of nanopositioners.
University of Newcastle Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Carter, said the Faculty had a long established and highly successful track record in engineering and environmental research.
“This Australian Government backing will support our researchers to continue their important work that will deliver innovation of benefit to communities not only in Newcastle but across the world.”