Discovery boost for better batteries and other blue-sky ideas

25 November 2022

Researchers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have won significant funding that could prove vital for better batteries, sustainable methane conversion, and a range of other groundbreaking nanotechnologies.

Professor Lianzhou Wang and his team will use their $530,740 Discovery Project grant to progress solar-driven methane to methanol conversion.

Three exciting AIBN projects will share $1.5 million under the latest Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme dedicated to accelerating information essential for a knowledge-based economy.

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This year $221 million was awarded to almost 500 fundamental ‘blue-sky’ Discovery projects across the country.

Among the winners were the AIBN’s Professor Lianzhou Wang and Dr Zhiliang Wang, who will use their $530,740 grant to progress solar-driven methane to methanol conversion.

Dr Bin Luo (pictured above with Redflow chief technology officer Steve Hickey) was awarded $409,805 with Dr Peng Chen, and Dr Xia Huang to accelerate their work on clean battery technology

Their research aims to design new semiconductor materials to sustainably convert methane into valuable liquid chemicals like methanol, helping to alleviate key environmental and energy challenges facing Australia and the world.

Elsewhere, Dr Bin Luo, Dr Peng Chen, and Dr Xia Huang were awarded $409,805 to accelerate their work on clean battery technology.

This project aims to develop a new solar rechargeable Zinc-Bromine flow battery to better address the global energy shortage and mitigate pollution.

Finally, Professor Andrew Whittaker, Associate Professor Idriss Blakey, and Dr Hui Peng have won $515,000 to help them develop new hybrid nanotechnologies using sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) of polymers.

Expected outcomes include establishing new ways of constructing nanostructures using functional polymers, and novel fabrication processes exploiting polymer self-assembly.

AIBN talent on display at new Centres of Excellence

The Discovery Project funding caps off a hugely successful period for AIBN academics with Professor Alan Rowan and Professor Whittaker each set to play key roles at two new Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres of Excellence at The University of Queensland.

Professor Rowan has been named a chief investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Quantum Biotechnology, while Professor Whittaker is the chief investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Green Electrochemical Transformation for Carbon Dioxide.

UQ will also host a third centre - the ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Futures - with the funding totalling $105 million.

Each of these Centres of Excellence is being established to help find solutions to intractable challenges – and they will each attract multi-million-dollar investments from NGOs, industry, government, and university partners.