UNSW to lead ARC Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation

08 Nov 2022
UNSW to lead ARC Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation

The new centre will develop carbon catalysts for clean energy, CO2 capture, and green chemistry to reduce emissions.

A UNSW Sydney-led project has been awarded $35 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation.

The goal of the centre is to revolutionise carbon science so carbon materials can be used in renewable energy generation and clean chemical production. It’s hoped this new world-leading capacity will enable emerging carbon industries to ultimately meet zero-emissions targets.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated Professor Liming Dai and his team who will lead research at the new centre.

“Being awarded an ARC Centre of Excellence is incredibly competitive and reflects the high-quality research undertaken by Liming and his co-investigators. The new centre will see our researchers partnering with industry, community, and government to produce outcomes with a really positive impact on emissions targets,” Prof. Fisk said.

Professor Dai from UNSW Engineering will direct the new Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science. The Centre will use pioneering methods to transform the fundamental science of carbon and develop clean solutions for fossil-fuel-based energy generation and chemical production. Carbon-based catalysts are expected to benefit new technologies for energy, environmental, and green chemical industries.

“Our centre team members have made revolutionary discoveries by changing the composition of pure carbon materials through heteroatom-doping,” Prof. Dai said.

“In particular, carbon catalysts and renewable solar power will be used to produce hydrogen peroxide from air and water for wastewater purification. This will transform the chemical and environmental industries in Australia that are worth more than $60 billion,” he said.

“The impact is not just for the environment but will also contribute billions of dollars to Australia through a carbon circular economy. The carbon problem then becomes the solution.”

Prof Dai said the Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science will be a one-stop shop for global carbon science and innovation, and also provide a “unique opportunity for human capacity building with a long-lasting legacy”.

ARC announced $384.9 million in research funding for 11 ARC Centres of Excellence to conduct research in areas of national priority over a seven-year period.   

ARC Centres of Excellence are focal points of expertise by which high-calibre researchers collaborate to deliver research that benefits Australia, strengthens our international standing, and addresses some of the major challenges of our time.  

ARC Chief Executive Officer Judi Zielke said: “Our Centres of Excellence scheme is one of our largest and most prestigious schemes, consistently delivering exciting outcomes that can only be achieved with the collaboration the centres facilitate.  

“In addition, universities and collaborators are contributing a total of $375 million to these new ARC Centres of Excellence, with 221 partner organisations contributing $304.6 million in cash and in-kind funding, which will enhance Australia’s research capability across all disciplines.”