Representatives of industry, government and science have helped officially launch the $8.8 million Australian Research Council Green Manufacturing Hub, led by UNSW Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla.
The collaboration between industry partners and researchers at UNSW, the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong and Monash University is focused on developing new processes to direct waste into industrial production and create valuable commodities.
The hub will undertake world-leading research into transformational technologies that can convert complex automotive waste into metal alloys, integrate agricultural waste into ferrous processing and use waste plastic to make green ceramics.
As an Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Sahajwalla and her team are also working to deliver cost effective solutions for e-waste, the world’s fastest growing waste stream.
The hub’s industry partners include Arrium, Brickworks Building Products, Jaylon Industries and Tersum Energy.
ARC Chief Program Officer Dr Laura Dan congratulated Professor Sahajwalla, director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, SMaRT, and her team on the launch of ARC Research Hub: Transforming Waste Directly in Cost-effective Green Manufacturing.
“Together with your industry partners, you will achieve great outcomes,” she said.
UNSW Dean of Science Professor Merlin Crossley said that the hub was a great example of partnerships between universities and industry, which have many advantages.
“One is generating critical mass in Australia. One is sharing ideas. And one is demonstrating to the government that we can work together to achieve more.”
Chief Executive Mining Consumables at Arrium John Barbagallo said manufacturing industries could only maintain a sustainable competitive advantage if they were prepared to invest in people, “be prepared to have a go” at research and innovation, and “stay the test of time” until the benefits were achieved.
He said the success of this approach had been shown through the collaboration of OneSteel, an Arrium company, with Professor Sahajwalla in the development of “green steel”, in which waste tyres and plastics are used to partially replace non-renewable coke in electric arc steel furnaces.
Arrium also employs graduates from UNSW, and “we are delighted with the calibre of the students that we have brought into our organisation,” he said.
General Manager Corporate Development at Brickworks Mark Callagher said the only way mature industries could advance was to innovate.
Other guests included Marcelle Psaila and Phillip Molyneaux of the NSW Environment Protection Authority, and Cameron Chai and Richard Trett of AXT Pty Ltd, a leading supplier of high technology scientific equipment.