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USQ plays leading role in national research hubs

From transforming rubbish into construction materials to reducing the fire risk of current battery technologies, University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researchers will play leading roles in two major research hubs announced yesterday.

They are two of five Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hubs across the country – each granted $5 million from the ARC – that aim to support research that will foster strategic partnerships between university-based researchers and industry.

USQ’s Professor John Bell and Professor Zhi-Gang Chen have been engaged as part of the Deakin University-led project that will deliver a new generation of energy technologies that are safer and more reliable to use.

Professor Bell, an expert in energy efficiency and renewable energy, also leads the University’s research endeavours as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation).

“While energy storage underpins our technological society, there are serious issues related to safety, reliability and sustainability that must be addressed,” Professor Bell said.

“For example, explosions and fire pose a threat to human life; current technologies can be inefficient; waste materials levels are too high; and resources for current energy materials are limited.

“Together, we researchers will develop innovative solutions to these challenges facing current-generation energy storage and conversion technologies, from small scale portable devices to large scale industrial applications.”

Professor Bell and Professor Chen, who specialises in sustainable energy and thermoelectrics, will work on carbon-based supercapacitors (an energy storage technology), integrating it with a variety of renewable energy sources with a focus on reliability and consistency.

Fellow USQ researchers Professor Hao Wang and Dr Weena Lokuge will work as part of another research hub, led by RMIT, focusing on reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and how to utilise waste products in new materials for construction and other manufacturing sectors.

“The world is facing a serious problem right now in that we produce too much waste to maintain our modern lifestyle and we have fewer resources available for manufacturing and construction,” Professor Wang said.

“We’ll be focusing on finding way to turn waste resources into engineered materials which is critical for the future of sustainable development.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor John Bell said USQ’s involvement with the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs is an example of the University’s strong partnerships with industry leaders, and ability to drive research in real-world environments.

researchers in lab
USQ researchers, including Professor Zhi-Gang Chen, will play leading roles in two major research hubs.