The University of New South Wales has secured funding for one of six new Australia-China Joint Research Centres, which aims to meet the many challenges facing the minerals, metallurgy and materials industries in both countries.

The UNSW-led centre is part of a new initiative announced last week by the federal government to establish new collaborative research centres under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund. 

As part of this initiative, each government will contribute $5 million to support joint research centres in areas of strategic importance such as environmental science, energy, sustainable futures, agriculture and biological sciences, engineering and materials science.

UNSW will lead the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Mineral, Metallurgy and Materials, also known as the 3-M Centre, which will receive $833,000 in start-up funding. The lead Chinese partner is the China Iron and Steel Research Institute Group.

“The 3-M industries represent significant contributions to the economies of both Australia and China,” says Scientia Professor Aibing Yu from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW, who will head up the Centre. “However, many of the processes involved are traditionally regarded as energy intensive and environmentally unfriendly.” 

“Australia and China both face considerable challenges in securing the future value of these industries and sustaining a competitive advantage in a carbon and resource constrained world,” he says.

“Part of the aim of this Centre is to develop and apply innovative new technologies to improve energy efficiency in these important industries, and to promote the production and application of advanced materials, such as photovoltaic and catalyst materials, for renewable energy production.”

The Centre will also focus on building a stronger economic partnership with China, which is the largest consumer of Australia’s mineral resources and has a huge market in the 3-M industries where advanced Australian-developed technologies can be applied and commercialised, says Yu.

In addition, the Centre will enable the two-way flow of students, academics and researchers between China and Australia, and serve to strengthen existing research collaborations between the two countries.

The Centre is supported by a strong talent pool of more than 40 Fellows and academics from the Australian and Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering.

It also involves several prominent UNSW engineers, including Scientia Professors Martin Green (School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering), Rose Amal (School of Chemical Engineering), Veena Sahajwalla (School of Materials Science and Engineering) and Liangchi Zhang (School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering).

Media Contact: Myles Gough, UNSW Media Office, 0420 652 825