Recycling & decarbonisation in focus

Our goal: Revamping the economy to live within our limits. Creating new technology from old technology.

Roundabout in the middle of a forest

Giving bygone technology a second life

From sourcing and production to recycling and repurposing, our research into decarbonisation and recycling is redefining how we consume, fostering a global and multi-disciplinary effort to maximise efficiency and value across all sectors. One company's trash is another's treasure.

Whether it’s water bottles, stadiums, or solar panels, these are all products of engineering. Each one serves a purpose but leaves a footprint. In waste and energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, and agriculture, we are redesigning product life cycles, electrifying transport and supply chains, and scaling up carbon-capture technologies to live comfortably and compatibly within our planet’s limits. The biggest impact we can make as engineers is helping people and businesses make a smaller footprint in their shelf lives. Across the value chain, how can we maximise the life of the products we consume?

“We’re shifting traditional industry operations from linear to circular principles that consider the full product lifecycle; from the extraction of raw materials to sustainable manufacturing processes and the recycling of waste. These are the essential ingredients to achieve net zero.”

- Scientia Professor Sami Kara, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Our areas of impact

  • Vital infrastructure and living networks
  • Sustainable materials & manufacturing
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Low-carbon living
  • Electrification
  • Waste to resource

To significantly cut the CO2 emissions created by diesel engines, a UNSW team led by Professor Shawn Kook, A/Professor Shaun Chan and Professor Evatt Hawkes have successfully developed a hydrogen-diesel direct injection dual-fuel technology, which allows diesel engines to run primarily on hydrogen. Existing diesel engines can be retrofitted with the newly invented system – thereby allowing heavy industries to significantly cut their carbon dioxide emissions quickly.

Student voices

“The aim of my PhD research was to automate the dismantling process of electronic waste (e-waste) for sustainable end-of-life treatment. Every piece of discarded electronic device is as unique and unpredictable as the people who used it.

Humans have a cognitive ability to handle these uncertainties but the exposure to toxic e-waste is unsafe. We can deal with toxic smartphone waste by using smart robots that are as flexible and adaptable as a human worker, tackling the ever-evolving e-waste problem and moving towards a circular economy.”

- Gwendolyn Foo, Mechanical Engineering Graduate 3 Minute Thesis

Research centres & institutes

  • NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub
  • Institute for Global Development
  • Centre for Infrastructure Engineering and Safety
  • CRC Low-Carbon Living

Get in touch and see what’s possible.

Ask how we can help your business, industry, or market through collaboration.