Energy storage research – specifically high performance cathodes made of low-cost nanocarbons -- will be part of the focus on a new collaborative effort between The Dow Chemical Company and University of Queenland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering Nanotechnology (AIBN). Dow will contribute approximately $AU1.74million ($UDS1.7million) in the three-year alliance. In addition to improved energy storage systems, AIBN will conduct research on sustainable sources for chemicals and new-generation circuitry.
The research into high performance cathode materials based on low-cost nanocarbons will involve the research group led by Professor Max Lu and Dr. Denisa Jurcakova. The objective of the project is to develop improved cathode materials with high energy and power densities for applications in hybrid vehicles and renewable energy storage systems.
Caption: PhD student Sean Muir, AIBN’s Dr Denisa Jurcakova, Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris and Professor Max Lu.
Research in the project will involve novel material design, synthesis, electrochemistry and fundamental chemistry. The improved nanoparticles developed will find use in batteries with potential use not only in portable devices, but for hybrid vehicles and energy storage for renewable resources such as sun and wind.
Research into new-generation circuitry for electronics will be completed by Professor Andrew Whittaker's and Dr. Idriss Blakey's research group. Researchers will use organic synthesis, physical chemistry and electrical engineering to craft functional plastics and polymers for the manufacture of integrated circuits. The new generation of circuits will increase performance, decrease size and cost and have potential uses in computers, cameras, smart phones, hand-held gadgets and even fridges.
Escalating oil costs and concerns about carbon dioxide emissions make it imperative to develop new manufacturing processes based on renewable substrates rather than diminishing fossil fuels. Research carried out in the third project will be led by Professor Lars Nielsen and Dr. Jens Kromer, and will use scientific advances in the biosciences to genetically reprogram bacteria to produce the chemical building blocks of the future.