Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr launched the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology this week, hailing it as an important model for Australian collaborative research and development.
The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT@UNSW) brings together researchers from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Built Environment and ADFA to work with industry on the development of innovative, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.
One of the flagship sustainable technologies of the SMaRT Centre, invented by centre director, Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, is a process - polymer injection technology - which takes used car tyres as an energy and emissions-saving substitute for coking coal in electric arc furnace steelmaking.
The launch of SMaRT on Wednesday, March 4, was attended by Senator Carr, senior UNSW representatives including Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field, and representatives from industry.
Senator Carr praised the importance of the cross-disciplinary approach that SMaRT brings to research and development.
"Multi-faceted problems require multi-disciplinary answers and the SMaRT centre is absolute proof of that - it demonstrates the value of collaboration between researchers and industry," he said.
"This is where white collar meets blue collar - it is the best way to get new knowledge out of the academy and into the real world."
Professor Sahajwalla said the SMaRT Centre has twin goals of delivering environmental and economic benefits.
"We are doing cutting edge research which can have a significant impact on industry," she said.
"But that impact doesn't just happen - it has to start literally at the basic research level."
Professor Sahajwalla has developed the polymer injection technology with steelmaking giant, OneSteel. OneSteel has an exclusive international licence on the patented technology for use in its steel mills and, following successful trials at mills in NSW and Victoria, is trialling the technology at a plant in the United States.
David Knights, OneSteel's General Manager, EAF and Casting, said the technology was a win for steelmakers and the environment.
"We have seen an improvement in our cost efficiency while making a positive impact on the environment," he said.
The SMaRT Centre will continue to work with industry in the development of novel materials, processes and designs to increase recycling, reduce energy consumption and cut material use.