20 November 2013 — Researchers from Curtin University in Western Australia have taken out the top prize and $100,000 at the 2013 WA Innovator of the Year Awards, with an innovative membrane and novel process for its manufacture.

The team received the Mitsubishi Corporation WA Innovator of the Year as the overall winner, for creating a new approach to making membranes that speeds up the transfer rate of oxygen.

The innovation resulted from a project led by Professor Chun-Zhu Li from Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute with support from the WA State Government under its Centres of Excellence program.

Other members included Professor Gordon Parkinson, Dr Dehua Dong, Mr Xin Shao and John Curtin.

The Curtin team devised a way to produce a membrane structure that has the highest recorded oxygen flux and is also mechanically strong and durable, yet still cost-effective.

“Not only are we looking at using this membrane as an alternative for other oxygen production processes, but also at other opportunities in the clean conversion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, in the development of novel renewable energy technologies and in the utilisation of carbon dioxide to produce fuels and chemicals,” Professor Parkinson said.

“This award is a very significant achievement for us. It gives our innovation strong credibility in the eyes of potential industry partners, as we progress to commercialisation.”

The awards are administered by the Department of Commerce. The prize money, training and mentoring opportunities provided through the awards program will equip recipients with the necessary skills to attract capital, and help them to progress and commercialise their ideas.