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Funding injection for urban rewilding, hydrogen tech

31 August 2022
Sydney researchers awarded $1M in ARC grants
Two University of Sydney research teams have been awarded more than $1 million to work with industry on urban rewilding and hydrogen embrittlement projects.

The projects were awarded under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme, which promotes national and international research partnerships between researchers and business, industry, community organisations and other publicly funded research agencies. Projects are funded over five years. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston AO congratulated the grant recipients on their success.

“Congratulations to our successful recipients, whose research is addressing issues of vital importance to Australia, including making urban areas wildlife-friendly, and developing materials for the hydrogen industry.

“The successful grants also recognise the University of Sydney’s commitment to working with industry and government partners toward solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.”

Professor Julie Cairney

Professor Julie Cairney

A Faculty of Engineering team led by Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research - Enterprise and Engagement), Professor Julie Cairney, were awarded $519,346 for a collaboration with industry partners CITIC MetalMicroscopy SolutionsPOSTECH and several universities in South Korea and China, to research hydrogen embrittlement in steels. 

A major impediment to a safe hydrogen economy, hydrogen embrittlement in steels is a process which occurs when metals become brittle due to the introduction and diffusion of hydrogen into material. 

Storable hydrogen fuel is cheap, clean, storable, and produced without emissions – leaving only water when burned. It is poised to become a reality for Australia, and this project aims to understand hydrogen embrittlement in steels to allow for the design of safe, hydrogen-compatible future gas infrastructure. 

The research team, which includes materials engineers Dr Yi-Sheng (Eason) Chen and Dr Ranming Niu, aims to determine how hydrogen affects the deformation behaviour of steel, providing the fundamental information required to develop alloys that can safely transport and store hydrogen. 

The researchers hope a systematic investigation on the effects of hydrogen on micro-components in steel will pave the way for new alloy manufacturing. 

Tom Newsome

Dr Thomas Newsome

Thomas Newsome from the Faculty of Science and his team were awarded $488,227 for an urban rewilding project.

The team will work with the Taronga Conservation Society, seven local councils in northern Sydney, and the NSW Government to repopulate urban areas with flora and fauna Indigenous to the Sydney basin. 

According to the researchers, biodiversity is highly threatened in Australian cities. The project aims to prevent further wildlife loss by ecologically restoring urban spaces through rewilding. 

The team will take a new approach to conservation which involves returning regionally-present but locally-missing wildlife to urban areas in Sydney. 

The team hope to restore ecosystem services provided by wildlife and create opportunities for members of local communities to increase their engagement with nature. 

They also hope the the project will improve public education on restoring wildlife, and increase efforts to conserve Sydney’s biodiversity and cultural heritage.

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