Transportation Fuels and Energy Conversion
A key aspect of the research in this program, which is co-led by Associate Professor Scott Donne and Dr Michael Stockenhuber, is focused on hydrogen, in recognition of its growing importance as a fuel and its role as an energy carrier. Our research efforts include investigating the synthesis of hydrogen from fossil fuels such as coal, biomass and natural gas. We have an active program on microenergy systems for small metal applications such as laptops, mobile phones, etc.
These miniaturised systems use a fuel to produce H2 and then run a miniautre fuel cell. The micro-energy sub-program is led by Professor Behdad Moghtaderi.
Micro Energy System Sub-Programs
Micro energy system facility
Micro fabrication laboratory (clean room)
We also have projects which convert hydrogen to chemicals such as methanol (from CO2) and ammonia (from N2 ). These products can serve as fuels or chemical feedstocks, where they can be converted into a myriad of useful products, including transportation fuels. In addition, we examine new and novel developments in electrochemical energy generation (such as next generation batteries and electrical storage devices), as well as optimisation of energy usage on electrical power grids.
The Laboratories are currently investigating:
- Kinetics of Chemical Reactions in Combustion Systems: Reaction mechanisms and rates, formation of toxic by-products in fires, smoke generation, removal of combustion-propagating radicals from flames, chain initiation and break-up, flame ignition and spontaneous combustion.
- Extinction of Flames and Mitigation of Fires: Interaction between fires and water mist, behaviour of foams, gels and powders in fires, gaseous suppressants, their global warming and ozone depletion properties, flame quenching, flammability limits, burning velocities and combustion waves.
- Mass and Heat Transfer in Fires: Emission of thermal radiation and its mitigation, thermodynamic and transport properties of flame radicals, heat release and cone calorimetry, thermal decomposition and stability of materials.
- Fluid Mechanics in Fires: Mixing and buoyancy, fire spread movement of smoke and toxic chemicals, large scale natural and industrial fires and pre and post-flashover fires.
Examples of the specific research interests include:
- Formation of dioxin and furans during combustion of treated and contaminated wood
- Spontaneous ignition of zinc dust
- Chemical gassing of emulsion explosives
- Contamination of soil in Newcastle
- Conversion of halons into useful products
- Toxic products from bushfires