Smart thinking is plastic fantastic
In a world awash with plastic waste, Professor Thomas Maschmeyer’s start-up company, Licella, could be a game-changer.
Using renewable energy, Licella deploys catalytic hydrothermal reactor technology to completely recycle plastic – saving energy and avoiding waste.
That’s just one of the reasons why Professor Maschmeyer FTSE has won the 2018 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.
Another of his start-ups, Gelion, is looking at improving batteries to allow for scalable green power.
The company has revisited battery chemistry based on zinc and bromine and developed powerful batteries using patented next-generation gel technology.
This allows batteries to be used effectively for functions like support for remote power infrastructure, utility storage and distributed storage in homes and offices.
The Eureka Prize judges said: “Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is a world leader in the chemistry of catalysis. He aims to generate and translate new knowledge into commercial solutions as part of his vision for a more sustainable world.
“His discoveries allow widespread use of renewables and recyclables in the chemical, material and energy spaces, and are the foundation of four companies.”
Professor Maschmeyer is Director of the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the University of Sydney.
He said: “In the academic groups I lead we generate fundamental knowledge with a strong focus on technology translation to help address the dual challenges of climate change and limited global resources.”
Eureka – smart glue solves a sticky problem
When a human lung is punctured, it collapses – but Professor Tony Weiss AM FTSE helped create a surgical glue that could patch a deadly wound like this in seconds.
This glue is what led the biotech expert to win a Eureka Prize, Australia’s top science awards.
Known as MeTro, after its natural elastic protein methacrylated tropolastin base, the glue is set to revolutionise how surgeries are performed.
Essentially, it works by squirting MeTro onto the lesion and then shining UV light, which sets the glue in only 60 seconds, making it ideal for emergencies.
“There are so many things we can do with this material and we look forward to having to having the opportunity to test and apply these technologies for a whole range of applications in people,” Professor Weiss said in a video released by the University of Sydney last year.
Unlike rigid staples or stitches, MeTro’s high elasticity means it can seal body wounds that continually expand and contract without the risk of reopening, such as arteries, lungs and hearts. It also promotes the healing of tissue and returns it back to normal in half the time.
And the technology can be set with a time limit that determines how long the sealant lasts, allowing enough time for healing.
Professor Weiss, who is based at the University of Sydney, developed MeTro in collaboration with US scientists from Harvard University and Northeastern University.
Elected to the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering in 2014, Professor Weiss was awarded the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research.
Winning team is pumped about hydro
A 100 per cent renewable energy future in Australia has been proven possible, thanks to an ANU research team led by Professor Andrew Blakers FTSE.
Their findings led them to win the 2018 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.
Research from the team, RE100, shows how Australia can transition to a fully renewable electricity system, while retaining reliability of supply.
They discovered about 22,000 possible sites for pumped hydro energy storage locations across the continent – surpassing stored energy requirements 100-fold.
“We’ll be able to easily manage a very reliable 100 per cent renewable electricity system,” Professor Blakers told the ABC.
Pumped hydro energy storage can readily balance the grid with any amount of solar and wind power in a cost-effective way, creating a solution to burning fossil fuels.
And with an operation lifetime of more than 50 years and a lower price tag than large-scale storage batteries, “off river” pumped hydro energy storage has a promising future. Already, the technology accounts for 97 per cent of worldwide electricity storage.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt congratulated the RE100 group on their success, saying it was a fitting reward for years of hard work.
“This is a well-earned recognition and an example of the extraordinary depth of research that is taking place here at ANU. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in these projects,” he said.
Professor Blakers is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems and was elected to the Academy in 2004.