Grants and funding, Manufacturing News, New South Wales, Research and Development, Sustainability

UNSW receives $6.3 million for renewable energy and decarbonisation research

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided the University of New South Wales with $6.3 million to produce a blast furnace for sustainable iron-making and a renewable hydrogen production system.

The projects are to be led by professor Yansong Shen and Scientia professor Rose Amal. 

Dean of engineering at UNSW professor Julien Epps congratulated both Shen and Amal on the development of these projects.

“This type of research is a key part of a global transition to net zero emissions, and brings increased understanding to the technologies that will be part of a clean energy future.”

In a carbon-constrained global steel market, low-emissions iron and steel-making technologies are crucial. 

The first project received $4.4 million in funding to develop new blast furnace technology to foster low-emission iron-making. 

The Renewable Injections-Sustainable Burdens (RISB) process project will be led by Shen and involve partners from the steel-making industry.

The project will help to decarbonise domestic steel production by providing a novel iron-making solution for Australian iron ore, predominantly composed of lower-grade ore from the Pilbara. 

“We are confident that we can create a viable blast furnace process, enabling a low-emission ironmaking process to be brought to market in the near future,” said Shen. 

Epps said the work will help the Australian iron ore and steel industry which faces significant challenges to decarbonise.

“Shen’s project will help to remove the barriers to using lower-grade Australian iron ores in steelmaking and optimise its use through the development of the Renewable Injections-Sustainable Burdens (RISB) Process,” said Epps. 

The second UNSW project focusing on multiphase electrolysers for renewable ammonia production received $1.9 million of funding. 

The team led by Amal will partner with engineering and investment companies to accelerate the scaling-up and commercialisation of the technology.

UNSW has developed a patented technology known as OzAmmonia, which facilitates the direct conversion of air (and water) into ammonia.

The system also can transform nitrogen oxide gases found in waste flue gas, and nitrate and nitrite in wastewater, into ammonia.

This closes the nitrogen oxide loop and unlocks a zero-emissions future for fertilisers, fuels and beyond.

“Renewable ammonia is an energy carrier in the emerging hydrogen economy,” said Amal.  

The ability to safely produce renewable ammonia through our hybrid advanced oxidation and electrolyser process has great potential to support the development of low-cost, clean ammonia in Australia.”   

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said the agency is backing this kind of innovation. 

“We’re backing Australian technological innovation that helps build our clean industries and underpins our ambitions of becoming a renewable energy superpower,” said Miller.

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