UNSW microrecycling tech gets funding injection

Wednesday, 18 December, 2019

UNSW microrecycling tech gets funding injection

The UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) will receive almost $1 million from the state government to help commercialise its Microfactorie technology, which can reform waste materials such as glass, single-use coffee cups, used coffee grounds and textiles into ceramic-based panel products for use as tables, countertops and tiles.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes announced UNSW as one of five winners to share in $5 million from the new Physical Sciences Fund of the NSW Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer to help bring industry-changing ideas to market.

“NSW is renowned for its innovative science sector, which is why we’re not only investing in developing and nurturing ideas but commercialising them too,” Stokes said.

The fund recipients included a lightweight data gathering drone, a magnetic resonance analyser, architectural surfaces manufactured from recycled materials, agricultural technologies and a device that produces drinking water from atmospheric moisture.

“Our inaugural winners are turning rubbish into luxe building products, using drones to save the environment, improving the efficiency of mines and the wine industry, and literally pulling water from thin air,” Stokes said.

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte said bringing great ideas to market was a challenge facing universities and small companies.

“In addition to giving financial support, the Physical Sciences Fund provides advice and facilitates collaborations to ensure that each project’s scientific rigour is matched with seasoned entrepreneurial know-how,” Professor Durrant-Whyte said.

UNSW SMaRT Centre Director Professor Veena Sahajwalla said the new funding would help advance commercialisation prospects of the team’s microrecycling science.

“We’ve developed manufacturing technology and capability so waste can be reformed into value-added materials and products, and kept out of landfill. Environmental benefits aside, this scientifically developed technology will help to drive the emerging circular economy, create jobs and enhance social and economic outcomes, not just for local communities but more broadly for the nation,” she said.

Image caption: UNSW SMaRT Centre Director Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

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