Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation
School of Chemical Engineering

Research

The Dow Centre currently leads three flagship programs which aim to make an original and significant contribution to global sustainability in the areas of production and utilisation of energy and materials. Our flagship programs are:

Rapid Switch – an international network originated at the Dow Centre which seeks to identify, anticipate and communicate industrial, regulatory and social bottlenecks and constraints that might impact the pace of decarbonisation of the global economy. The intended impact is better informed public-policy and private investment decision-making. 

Low-CO2 Iron-Making – a new process in which iron is produced utilising innovative chemistry, natural gas and molten salts. The process yields solid iron, solid carbon and no CO2. The intended impact is a next generation steel making process which does not generate greenhouse gas emissions.

Low-CO2 Hydrogen and Fuels – new processes which produce hydrogen and or syngas by pyrolysing methane in molten salts and metals. The intended impact is a suite of future fuels, chemicals and solid carbons without making CO2.

In screening potential research opportunities, the Dow Centre considers the potential impact on global sustainability and our regional economy, as well as the potential for the Dow Centre to make a significant contribution. To this end, the Dow Centre also leads a broad range of research programs which meet these criteria, including:

Next Generation Fertilisers – a collaborative project with UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences along with the Queensland Government and industry to improve the efficiency of fertiliser use in agriculture. The project is using materials science and microbiology in an effort to reduce land degradation and nutrient run-off. These issues are significant for agricultural productivity and ocean health world-wide including here in Queensland where the health of the Great Barrier Reef is at stake.

Printed Energy Devices – a collaborative project with UQ’s AIBN, UNSW and Printed Energy Pty Ltd to develop and commercialise thin flexible printed batteries. These will have the ability to revolutionize the powering of products such as disposable healthcare devices, sensors and wearable electronic devices. The batteries will ultimately be printed in a roll-to-roll process like a newspaper, providing significant flexibility in the way they can be incorporated into every day products.

Energy and Poverty – a collaborative program with a range of schools across UQ to address the challenge of providing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy services to the energy impoverished. Focused on India, the program is also active in Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Southern Africa. The Dow Centre along with the current Director provided significant seed funding to help establish this group in 2014. Since that time, the group has enrolled 11 PhD students (three completed to date) working across multiple disciplines and all of whom have undertaken substantial field work in the priority countries.

More information on the Dow Centre's research can be found under Publications and Our People.