NSW prototypes awarded funding for commercialisation

Recipients of $5 million from the NSW Physical Sciences Fund range from next-generation drones to new methods of turning waste into high value products.

The five recipients will utilise the funding to commercialise their prototypes and bring their products to market, said NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Hugh Durrant-Whyte.

“In addition to giving financial support, the Physical Sciences Fund provides advice and facilitates collaborations to ensure that each project’s scientific rigour is matched with seasoned entrepreneurial know-how,” he said.

UNSW will use almost $1 million in funding to commercialise its Microfactorie to turn waste into building products at its SMaRT Centre. The circular economy facility turns coffee cups, glass, and textiles into panels for tables, countertops, and tiles.

Director of the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, Veena Sahajwalla, described how the funding will be used.

“We’ve developed manufacturing technology and capability so waste can be reformed into value-added materials and products and kept out of landfill. Environmental benefits aside, this scientifically developed technology will help to drive the emerging circular economy, create jobs and enhance social and economic outcomes, not just for local communities but more broadly for the nation,” said Sahajwalla.

An atmospheric water generator developed at the University of Newcastle also received $330,000 in funding for a commercial trial.

Using silica gel, the Hydro Harvester absorbs water from the air at night. Professor Behdad Moghtaderi highlighted what distinguishes the technology.

“By using solar thermal energy or waste heat, the Hydro Harvester has a lower electrical demand and lower average cost of water per litre than commercial atmospheric water generators,” he said.

“Our technology is designed to operate independent of the ambient temperature and humidity, so it’s suitable in virtually any environmental condition, and is cheaper to run.”