Scientia Professor Liming Dai was one of two UNSW academics recently elected 2023 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Prof. Dai from the School of Chemical Engineering is internationally recognised as a leading authority in developing carbon-based materials used in renewable energy technologies. One of Prof. Dai’s biggest contributions has been the creation of a material called carbon-based metal-free electrocatalysts, which can be used as alternatives for metal catalysts in clean energy technologies such as fuel cells, advanced batteries, and water-splitting systems. Carbon catalysts can be developed from carbon dioxide, biomass, and other carbon-rich wastes. They are abundant so that we can avoid the high cost and unsustainability associated with metal-based critical mineral catalysts.  

More recently, he was appointed Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation, hosted by UNSW, which aims to develop and study the next generation of carbon catalysts for clean production of chemicals to reduce carbon emissions and energy conversion and storage with zero emissions.

On his recent election to the Australian Academy of Science, Prof Dai said, “While I am honoured by my recent election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, I think it is also a recognition of the new research field of carbon electrocatalysis pioneered by our Centre members to be further explored in our Centre. Furthermore, this recognition provides opportunities for our Centre to collaborate with more respected fellow scientists in Australia and leading research institutions globally. This will lead a generational transformation in carbon science and innovation, a sustainable economy, and a clean environment for Australia and the world.”

As Centre Director, Prof Dai will provide strategic focus, facilitate the administrative structure and operating principles, and oversee the research program and collaboration with local and global institutions and industries. He says that the Centre’s ground-breaking research will have significant impact on Australia’s future.

“Our Centre aims to revolutionise carbon science and innovation for transformative catalysis technologies to mitigate carbon emissions. Over the next 3-5 years, our Centre members will develop breakthrough carbon science and ground-breaking carbon catalysts for clean production of energy and chemicals,” says Prof Dai.

“The Centre will also provide a unique opportunity for human capacity building with a long-lasting legacy. The impact is not just for the environment but will also contribute billions of dollars to Australia through a carbon circular economy and provide a sustainable future for Australia.”

Prof Dai plans to leverage his reputation and long-standing international leadership to facilitate global collaboration for centre members, particularly early career researchers and PhD students, and to put the Centre at the forefront of the international research arena.