Low angle isometric view of the Mathews Building of University of New South Wales, with 'UNSW' lettering.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will establish a new centre for research that repurposes carbon materials for renewable production, following a $35 million contribution from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

UNSW Sydney’s Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation will explore how carbon materials can be used in renewable energy generation and clean chemical production.

UNSW Engineering Professor, Liming Dai, will direct the new Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science, which promises to develop clean solutions for fossil-fuel-based energy generation and chemical production. 

Carbon-based catalysts are expected to benefit new technologies for energy, environmental, and green chemical industries.

“Our centre team members have made revolutionary discoveries by changing the composition of pure carbon materials through heteroatom-doping,” Prof. Dai said.

“In particular, carbon catalysts and renewable solar power will be used to produce hydrogen peroxide from air and water for wastewater purification. This will transform the chemical and environmental industries in Australia that are worth more than $60 billion.

“The impact is not just for the environment but will also contribute billions of dollars to Australia through a carbon circular economy. The carbon problem then becomes the solution.”

Prof Dai said the Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science will be a one-stop shop for global carbon science and innovation, and also provide a “unique opportunity for human capacity building with a long-lasting legacy”.

ARC announced $384.9 million in research funding for eleven ARC Centres of Excellence to conduct research in areas of national priority over a seven-year period.   

ARC Centres of Excellence are focal points of expertise by which high-calibre researchers collaborate to deliver research that benefits Australia, strengthens its international standing, and addresses current challenges.

ARC Chief Executive Officer, Judi Zielke, said the scheme was one of the organisation’s largest and most prestigious opportunities.

“Our Centres of Excellence scheme is one of our largest and most prestigious schemes, consistently delivering exciting outcomes that can only be achieved with the collaboration the centres facilitate,” Ms Zielke said.

“In addition, universities and collaborators are contributing a total of $375 million to these new ARC Centres of Excellence, with 221 partner organisations contributing $304.6 million in cash and in-kind funding, which will enhance Australia’s research capability across all disciplines.”

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