Environmental Linkage Grants

Congratulations to Environment Institute members Professor Alan Cooper and Professor Gus Nathan in securing funding in the following linkage projects:

Alan Cooper

Identifying the diversity and evolution of loci associated with adaptation to aridity/heat and salinity in ancient cereal crops

Project Summary

This project will use ancient grains of wheat, barley and rye to find ‘lost’ genetic diversity at key genes associated with resistance to aridity, salt and disease. This project will make the proteins of key genes, and study their interaction with the environment over time by measuring ions in the grains to reveal the ancient environmental conditions.

The role of epigenetic modifications in bovid adaptation to environmental change

Project Summary

This project will explore the role of epigenetic change, where gene expression is regulated without changing the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence, in how animals adapt to rapid climate change. This project will trace epigenetic markers in ancient bison and cows through 30,000 years of climate change, and identify key adaptive genes for the cattle industry.

Gus Nathan

Oscillating water column efficiency improvement through impedance matching and active latching control techniques

Project Summary

The coastline of southern Australia is recognised as a world-class wave energy resource. This project will play a crucial role in seeing this resource exploited whilst simultaneously keeping Australia at the forefront of wave energy technology. Specifically, this project will develop a high-efficiency turbine technology for wave energy.

‘No Zero Impact Energy’ Argues Energy Expert

Centre for Energy Technology Director Professor Gus Nathan argues that there is no such thing as ‘free’, ‘zero impact’ or ‘safe’ energy.

“The Japanese Fukushima Daiichi plant crisis has caused some people to question the impact of various power generation sources on our environment and lifestyles,” said the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER) researcher.

Professor Gus Nathan

“Each source of energy requires an investment to extract and each brings environmental impacts,” he said.

“This is why there is no ‘silver bullet’ and why it is necessary for society to invest not only in the development of a wide range of technologies but also in the assessment of their impacts and how these can be minimised,” said Professor Nathan.

Technological development to avoid adverse environmental impacts can be traced back centuries – the burning of coal was introduced to address deforestation from the use of wood for fuel.

Evolving legislation has driven the development of technologies to mitigate emissions – from smoke, through to carbon monoxide, the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and now carbon dioxide emissions.

“There are two key differences which make the introduction of legislation to control CO2 much more difficult than other pollutants,” said Professor Nathan.

“Legislation to control air pollution has been historically driven by the local effects of air pollution such as smog. In contrast, carbon dioxide has no local effect – we all breathe it out – but has a global effect.”

Professor Nathan suggests human society is poorer at addressing global issues as international bodies have weaker governance than national entities while the mitigation of CO2 is more expensive than other pollutants.

“Of course, the cost of mitigation is significantly less than the long-term cost of doing nothing. I would argue this situation offers an imperative to find low-cost pathways to a cleaner energy future.”

The sentiment is echoed by IMER’s vision to be a globally-recognised centre of excellence in research and technology transfer for the sustainable and efficient use of the world’s mineral and energy resources.

Solar Research Succeeds in Winning ARC Linkage

An investigation which aims to reduce the levelised cost of solar thermal energy by 40 per cent relative to present hybrids has successfully won an Australian Research Council Linkage Project application.

The Centre for Energy Technology (CET) Director Professor Gus Nathan heads up the successful application team which includes other Adelaide University staff Associate Professor Bassam Dally, Dr Zeyad Alwahabi, and RWTH Aachen University’s Prof Heinz Pitsch. The industry partner is Petratherm, parent company of Heliotherm.

Concentrated solar radiation in thermal power generation remains significantly more expensive than many alternative energy sources. One approach to reduce the cost of solar thermal energy is to combine it with established technologies using fossil fuels. Such ‘hybrid’ systems can typically halve the cost of solar thermal power. However, this is achieved at the expense of reducing solar contribution to around 5 per cent of total output.

This project supports the development of a new Australian renewable energy technology with a world-wide application through the first detailed investigation between concentrated solar radiation and a flame by the joint application of advanced laser diagnostics and modelling.

Not only does the novel approach offer cost reductions, it also trebles the proportion of renewable energy and provides full base-load capability. An immediate application includes the potential use by off-grid sites such as remote mines in Australia and globally.

CET is part of the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER).


Glimpse into the Future of Energy

Two new public seminar series starting in July will offer insight into how developments in clean, cost-effective energy technology will shape our future.

Run by the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Energy Technology, the free public seminars will focus on different aspects of energy.

“Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy” – organised in conjunction with the Royal Institution of Australia – is a six-part seminar series that will bring together top energy experts to provide information and tools for the public to be able to critically assess future energy sources.

Public participation in this series is strongly encouraged, with time for questions from the audience.

The first seminar in this series, on the future of fossil fuels, will be held on Wednesday 7 July.

The other public seminar series, “Energy Futures” – organised in conjunction with the University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences – is a twelve-part series that will look at a range of clean energy technology options for the future.

The first of these seminars, on climate change, will be held on Wednesday 28 July.

“Our two new seminar series will give the public the opportunity to learn about the wide variety of new clean energy technology options, including those being developed at the University of Adelaide ” said the Director of the Centre for Energy Technology, Professor Gus Nathan.

“Research into clean and efficient energy technologies is needed to deliver a clean energy future that addresses climate change and reduces the cost of energy.

“Both seminar series will feature members of the Centre who are internationally recognised for their research in such fields as the combustion of fossil fuels, bio-fuels, solar, geothermal, wind and wave energy, and energy efficiency.  The seminars will also feature speakers from leading companies and organisations in the energy field.

“These public seminars aim to help the community to critically assess how each of these developments in energy technology may address our future energy needs,” Professor Nathan said.

The Centre for Energy Technology is part of the Environment Institute and the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources at the University of Adelaide.

Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy

When: 6:00pm-7:30pm 7 July–3 November

Where: The Science Exchange, Exchange Place, Adelaide

Cost: free – all welcome.  Registration required at www.riaus.org.au.

Energy Futures

When: 5.00pm–7.00pm each Wednesday from 28 July–15 September and 6–27 October

Where: Horace Lamb Lecture Theatre, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide

Cost: free – all welcome.  No registration necessary

For more information about either series please email: environment@adelaide.edu.au or visit: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/environment/cet

Inaugural Meeting of CET Advisory Board

The CET Advisory Board

The Centre for Energy Technology (CET) has held the first meeting of its Advisory Board, chaired by the former Premier of South Australia, The Hon. John Olsen AO.

The Advisory Board brings leading practitioners from industry, government agencies and research together to provide advice to the Centre on strategic initiatives, contribute to long term planning and promote the Centre to external stakeholders.

The meeting took place in the historic Bastien Room and included a welcome by The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Profesor Mike Brooks, who outlined the University of Adelaide’s strategic vision. Board members also inspected some of the Centre’s leading laboratory facilities.

“We are excited to have attracted such high profile and experienced people to our Advisory Board” said Director of the CET, Professor Nathan. “Their enthusiasm for the field and breadth of knowledge are proving to be invaluable in helping to shape our future directions, and the board will play a key role in steering the direction of energy research within The University of Adelaide”.

The board strongly endorsed the vision of the University and CET and will assist its future growth and contribution to the development of clean energy technologies.

Members of the Advisory Board include:

  • The Hon. Trish White, previously MP and chair of South Australia’s Economic and Finance Committee
  • Mr Ian Chessel, Chief Scientist, Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology
  • Ms Ros de Garis, Group Sustainability Manager, Adelaide Brighton Cement Ltd
  • Mr Craig Oakeshott, Senior Manager Strategy and Economics, Australian Energy Market Operator
  • Mr Mike Congreve, Manager, Alternative Energy Projects, SANTOS
  • Mr Terry Kallis, Managing Director, Petratherm
  • Mr David Holland, Director, Right Angle Business Services (ex-Solar Systems)
  • Mr Ross Haywood, Global Practice Director, Hatch
  • Mr Stephen de Belle, Managing Director, Granite Power
  • Prof Mike Young, Executive Director, Environment Institute
  • Prof Stephen Grano, Executive Director, Institute of Mineral and Energy Resources

For more information about the Centre for Energy Technology visit its website.