Energy and resilience is one of the main research areas of the UNSW School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. We research the fundamental enabling technologies for clean, safe and resilient power systems.

Future energy systems need to be carbon-neutral, clean, powerful, able to be deployed at scale and resilient to disruption. So that achieving net zero carbon emissions does not come at the detriment to our modern society and industrial economy, all of which relies on affordable 24/7 power.

Energy storage is a key to this. Battery systems store electrical energy in reversible chemical reactions and our team has leading research capability in redox flow batteries and hybrid fuel cells. Internal combustion engines and nuclear power convert the energy stored in a high energy density fuel like hydrogen/renewable e-fuels or uranium to thermal energy, on demand. Solar thermal energy technologies allow abundant solar energy to be stored in molten salt or liquid metal and released as required.

Insights from our research are applied in- and outside the energy field. The ARC Fire Safety Training Centre is underpinned by expertise in computational fluid dynamics and materials and directly supports bush-fire resilience. Research into nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation is synergistic with our nuclear materials research, and several humanitarian engineering outcomes relate directly to solar thermal energy systems. We’re striving to build an energy future that is sustainable, resilient, humanitarian, and secure.

Combustion & fire safety

We study fundamental fluid flow, turbulence, combustion, thermodynamics, and heat transfer to tackle a wide variety of engineering problems in thermal systems, ranging from green hydrogen engines to fire safety and bushfire behaviour.

Solar energy

We investigate concentrated solar thermal power, solar thermochemical energy, and hybrid photovoltaic and thermal receivers for the renewable energy future. We also study laser processing of solar cells and electrochemical processing of solar cells to accelerate the development of next-generation solar thermal energy systems.

Nuclear energy

We research new materials for fission and fusion nuclear power plants. Applied research covers blockchain infosystems for nuclear safeguards, deep space power systems, virtual reality technology for remote handling, and modelling small modular reactors in integrated energy systems.

Energy harvesting

We design systems to harvest energy from existing process from industrial scale, right down to wearable, biomedical devices. Our piezoelectric/triboelectric nanogenerators power wearable electronic devices, demonstrating a promising technology for scavenging energy from body movement.