The University of Sydney has been awarded $1.4milion in funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to undertake several Linkage Projects in the areas of engineering and science.
These projects will see researchers collaborate with industry partners to transform Australia’s brick industry through cutting-edge manufacturing abilities, generate new knowledge in materials engineering to develop synthetic orthopaedic solutions, and enable the safe and efficient storage of hydrogen gas.
The ARC’s Linkage Projects scheme supports collaborative research projects between higher education researchers and partner organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Awarded on a basis of a competitive process and rigorous assessment, funding supports the highest-quality researchers and research projects across disciplines. Each year sees three rounds of Linkage Projects funding awarded.
Professor Gianluca Ranzi from the School of Civil Engineering and his team, together with Emeritus Professor Ian Gilbert from UNSW, will partner with Brickworks Building Products Pty Ltd, Austral Precast (NSW) Pty Ltd, and Hillside Engineering Pty Ltd to develop a new prefabricated composite brick-concrete panel technology by exploiting cutting-edge manufacturing capabilities.
The project is expected to transform the current brick industry by replacing traditional labour-intense brick construction with advanced and cost-effective prefabricated technologies that will enable brick construction to enter new markets, such as those of multi-storey buildings and complex load-bearing facades, previously not feasible or cost-effective.
“The development of the prefabricated composite technology will build on Australian advanced concrete prefabrication and brick manufacturing”, said Professor Ranzi.
“The technology will combine the benefits of bricks and concrete materials to integrate important architectural and structural features into the building design.”
A research team led by Professor Hala Zreiqat AM, Director of the ARC Centre for Innovative BioEngineering and member of the University of Sydney Nano Institute, will partner with Allegra Orthopaedics Limited to generate new knowledge in materials engineering by combining interdisciplinary expertise and state-of-the-art technologies in computational modelling, biomaterials, and additive manufacturing.
The project will use state-of-the-art 3D nano printing techniques will enable the development of next-generation fixation devices to effectively attach synthetic ligaments/tendons to bone. Researchers expect to create high-tech ceramic structures that are optimised to interface effectively between synthetic soft tissues and natural hard tissues.
According to Professor Zreiqat, the project will not only help thousands of Australians and millions globally suffering from ligament and tendon conditions, but also marks a significant opportunity for industry.
“The research benefits Australian industry engaged in developing next-generation synthetic orthopaedic solutions, providing a significant competitive advantage in an expanding global market”, said Professor Zreiqat.
“I am also delighted to see that all of my team members on the grant are early career researchers, and encourage all established academics to think of including ECR on their grants.”
School of Chemistry researchers are partnering with Rux Energy Pty Limited and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to develop new molecular materials capable of the highly efficient storage of hydrogen gas.
“A critical challenge in the realisation of hydrogen-based energy cycles is the ability to store hydrogen gas safely and efficiently,” said Professor Cameron Kepert.
“For many applications, this requires looking beyond the use of ultra-high pressures or ultra-low temperatures, towards chemical solutions that operate under non-extreme conditions.
“Our partnership with Rux Energy and ANSTO is developing new porous materials capable of storing large amounts of hydrogen per mass and volume, with the goal being to generate a library of materials that target individual hydrogen applications, spanning the smaller scale areas such as hydrogen vehicles all the way through to large-scale stationary storage and transport.”
According to fellow group member Dr Lauren Macreadie, Australia is in a prime position to be at the forefront of global hydrogen storage and delivery due to its abundance of natural resources.
“To make this an efficient and economical process, we need to have the means to implement safe hydrogen energy storage and delivery technologies, which is extremely important for future energy use and a global initiative,” said Dr Macreadie.
“This new technology we are collaborating on with our partners can address the current hydrogen storage challenges and pave a way for Australian hydrogen industries on a breadth of scale.”