University of Sydney chemical engineer Professor Yuan Chen’s ongoing research into developing and optimising advanced carbon materials (ACM) in partnership with Hazer Group has been bolstered with an additional $811,712 in funding awarded by the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC).
This new matching funding from IMCRC adds to the same amount of cash investment made by Hazer Group, with in-kind contributions now totalling $4.4 million.
IMCRC is a not-for-profit, independent cooperative research centre that helps Australian companies increase their global relevance through research-led innovation in manufacturing products, processes and services.
“Our cooperation has delivered useful research outcomes, which have played an essential role in securing this new funding from IMCRC. This project is an excellent opportunity to convert the currently unutilised carbon materials produced in the Hazer process into high-value carbon products.”
Over the next two years, researchers, including Professor Chen, will be investigating the use of graphite ACM derived from Hazer’s novel manufacturing process, known as the ‘Hazer Process’.
This innovative process uses natural gas or biomethane and iron ores as catalysts to produce high-purity hydrogen for the clean energy and other industries, at a significantly lower cost and with substantially lower carbon dioxide emissions than existing technology. Graphitic carbon materials is also a co-product of this process, produced in large quantity.
Graphite is an essential component of batteries, among other things, including the lithium-ion batteries that power computers, mobile devices and electric vehicles.
Aside from lithium-ion batteries, Professor Chen and researchers will also be focusing on applications including water purification, and additives for lubrication products.
Previous projects have indicated promising results in these three product sectors, as well as potential to be used as an additive in advanced building materials and cement.
“This program will study and further develop our knowledge of the processes and conditions needed to produce high-value graphite ACM including the processing and upgrading of such materials into high-value finished products,” said Hazer Chief Technical Officer and co-founder Dr Andrew Cornejo.
“The project will optimise and test ACMs at both laboratory and pilot plant scale in collaboration with specialist carbon processors and users, to identify and secure a range of markets for graphite ACM produced from future industrial-sized Hazer plants."
IMCRC Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, David Chuter highlighted the impact this research could have on Australian manufacturing.
“Advanced materials, particularly advanced carbon and carbon composites that can deliver significant advantages over more traditional materials such as steel and aluminium, are key technology enablers for Australian manufacturers,” said Chuter.