Just days after the launch of a new decarbonisation innovation hub, the University of NSW in partnership with the University of Newcastle have kicked off another multi-million dollar research commercialisation program, this time focused on recycling and clean energy.
The latest funding announcement is separate to, but complements, the new statewide decarbonisation innovation hub launched by the two universities earlier this week, which received $15 million in initial funding from the NSW Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program.
It comes amid a growing focus within Australia’s higher education sector around sustainability, with universities increasingly working to attract students, funding and staff through ambitious net zero targets and vital sustainability research.
The Recycling and Clean Energy Trailblazer program, or ATRaCE, will work to commercialise at least 63 new recycling and clean energy products, which will help the economy achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The four key focus areas for the partnership are:
- recycling and MICROfactories
- electrification, energy systems and storage
- sustainable fuels and chemicals manufacturing (with a special focus on Power-to-X “P2X” based production methods for hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels)
- next generation solar PV and systems
The program has received $50 million in funding through the federal government’s Trailblazer Universities Program, matched by $50 million cash and $47 million in-kind from UNSW and the UoN.
This is in addition to more than 20 industry partners and the CSIRO, who have expressed support for the initiative and have committed over $130 million in cash and in-kind contributions.
UNSW Scientia Professor Deo Prasad, who is heading up the Decarbonisation Innovation Hub, told The Fifth Estate that while ATRaCE is separate to the hub, the two programs will work together closely.
“They will essentially work closely together to deliver the same outcomes around decarbonisation and commercialisation and capacity building.”
It is estimated that up to 5200 jobs will be created through technologies developed by ATRaCE across the circular economy and clean energy industries and their supply chains.
In a statement, UNSW vice-chancellor and president Professor Attila Brungs, said the project will create a step change in Australian environmental sustainability transition.
“UNSW has a proud track record of commercialising research such as solar panels, energy storage, Green Steel and various MICROfactorie technologies led by 2022 NSW Australian of the Year, ARC Laureate Professor, Veena Sahajwalla.”