Bio-materials herald new chapter in Australian auto manufacturing

30 October 2019

University of Queensland researchers are developing a new generation of sustainable composite materials designed specifically for electric vehicles.

From left, UQ's Dr Michael Heitzmann, Mark Butler MP, and UQ's Dr Nasim Amiralian with the ACE-EV electric van.

Queensland-founded startup Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle Group  (ACE-EV) launched its electric van in Australia in August and is now working to ensure the vehicle is designed and built onshore, using Australian research expertise.

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology research fellow, Dr Nasim Amiralian, who will lead the project, said UQ’s researchers were passionate about creating manufacturing opportunities for Australia in the bio-economy.

“Working with ACE-EV will hopefully be the beginning of a new chapter in Australian automotive manufacturing,” Dr Amiralian said.The Co-Director of the UQ Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing, Dr Michael Heitzmann, said UQ had exceptional expertise in developing bioplastics and composites.

“It’s a logical next step for our UQ team to support a local start-up in implementing these new materials,” he said.

“We see great potential in replacing non-renewable traditional composite and polymers with bio-based materials that have a much lower carbon footprint.” 

ACE-EV managing director Greg McGarvie said UQ’s world-class bioengineering and nanotechnology research would allow him to keep ACE-EV’s research base in Queensland.

“Working together, we can all be part of a solution to the impending climate emergency, softening the impact by creating new jobs, new careers and new businesses that profit from reducing carbon footprints,” Mr McGarvie said.

“A transition to electric vehicles that use bio-based materials like ‘green’ plastics will mean cleaner, healthier cities and significant savings in household budgets.”

Mr McGarvie, originally from Maryborough in Queensland, said the company hoped to assemble ACE-EV vehicles in regional Queensland in the future.

Flinders University researchers will collaborate on the research with UQ and ACE-EV.

Media: Dr Nasim Amiralian,, +61 7 3346 4179; Dr Michael Heitzmann,, +61 422 298 155; Genevieve Worrell,, +61 408 432 213.