Congratulations to Prof. Gus Nathan

The Environment Institute would like to extend our Congratulations to the Centre for Energy Technology Director, Professor Graham (Gus) Nathan, who has been awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Awards (DORA).

Graham (Gus) Nathan

Gus was one of only 26 people in the nation to receive this award, 2 other recipients, Dr Adrienne Paton and Associate Professor Samer Akkach were also from The University of Adelaide.

We Congratulate all three researchers on this outstanding achievement!

Metal particle generates new hope for H2 energy

Tiny metallic particles produced by University of Adelaide chemistry researchers are bringing new hope for the production of cheap, efficient and clean hydrogen energy.

Associate Professor Greg Metha

Centre for Energy Technology member and Head of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide, Associate Professor Greg Metha is leading research into how the metal nanoparticles act as highly efficient catalysts in using solar radiation to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

“Efficient and direct production of hydrogen from solar radiation provides a renewable energy source that is the pinnacle of clean energy,” said Associate Professor Greg Metha. “We believe this work will contribute significantly to the global effort to convert solar energy into portable chemical energy.”

The latest research is the outcome of 14 years of fundamental research by Associate Professor Metha’s research group investigating the synthesis and properties of metal nanoparticles and how they work as catalysts at the molecular level.

The group works with metal “clusters” of about one-quarter of a nanometre in size – less than 10 atoms. Associate Professor Metha said these tiny “magic clusters” act as super-efficient catalysts. Catalysts drive chemical reactions, reducing the amount of energy required.

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Wind Farm Noise Pollution Project Draws Joint Collaboration

Adelaide and Korean researchers will collaborate on a research project investigating wind farm noise pollution.

The Centre for Energy Technology (CET), part of the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER) at the University of Adelaide, signed a statement of collaboration with Korea Maritime University’s Centre for Ocean Energy Research and Education earlier this year.

The groups will collaborate with joint research programs, exchange information and actively seek to exchange academic members and researchers for study and research.

One of the first projects the two institutions will work together involves an investigation into the effect of amplitude modulation on wind farm noise pollution. The project, led by Dr. Maziar Arjomandi, is supported by CET’s partnership with Adelaide Airport Limited. This two year project is aimed at numerical simulation of wind farm noise propagation, the behaviour of which in different atmospheric conditions and terrains is still unknown.

In recent years, wind farm developers in Canada, the US, New Zealand and the UK have faced increasing opposition from neighbouring land holders about the location of wind farm turbines triggered by noise pollution concerns.

Noise from wind farms are characterised as either mechanical – from the electrical generation turbine parts, the gear box or generator – or aerodynamic sound generated by pressure variations within the air which fluctuates at acoustic frequencies of between 20 and 20,000 times per second. In wind turbines, fluctuating pressure is caused by flow turbulence – hypothetically if the flow of air into and over the blades could be made completely smooth, noise would disappear. In practice, flow is turbulent hence noise is created. While design improvements have largely resolved mechanical issues, aerodynamic noise is a focus of further research.

It is hypothesized that amplitude modulation enhances the distance that wind farm noise can be propagated, although this effect is heavily dependent on atmospheric properties and wind farm layout and terrain. Amplitude modulation of aerodynamic noise from wind turbines is a phenomenon that occurs when broadband aerodynamic noise is modulated at a frequency, corresponding to the revolution speed of the turbine and the number of blades. This may be experienced as low frequency noise, causing annoyance for some people.

The research aims to ascertain the effect of amplitude modulation of aerodynamic noise in relation to three-bladed 3MW class wind turbines designed for a wind farm under various simulated conditions viewing elements such as farm terrain, atmospheric conditions and turbine positions.

Photo by vaxomatic

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).


Visitors from the Korean Maritime University

Professors from the Korean Maritime University visited the Centre for Energy Technology, University of Adelaide.

Prof. Young-Ho Lee, Prof. Sung Cheol Koh, and Prof You-Taek Kim from the Korean Maritime University visited the CET to find out more about our research expertise in the area of clean energy, in particular micro–algae research led by Associate Professor David Lewis and wave and wind energy let by Dr. Maziar Arjomandi. Dr. Stephen Pahl and Dr. Arjomandi gave them a tour around the campus laboratories and explained to them the research programs at The University of Adelaide. In return, the Korean visitors presented and explained more about their University and the work that is being done there.

During the visit, areas of mutual interest were identified for future collaboration in the development of clean energy related technologies, with the aim of signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2011.

Projecting future fuel production – peak oil, coal and natural gas

Listen to Prof Kjell Aleklett (Uppsala University, Sweden) speak about future fuel production.

The Centre for Energy Technology (CET) and Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER) were pleased to host a seminar by Professor Kjell Aleklett entitled ‘Projecting Future Fuel Production – Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Natural Gas, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emissions scenarios’ on 9 December.

Professor Aleklett heads the Global Energy Systems group at Uppsala University in Sweden.  His crucial research, published in March, is a critical review of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) forecasts of steady growth in oil production until at least 2030.


Adelaide Airport working towards a cleaner greener business with the CET

Adelaide Airport aims to become an Australian leader in clean energy use thanks to a new three-year, $750,000 partnership with the University of Adelaide. Under the partnership – launched today by Transport and Energy Minister the Hon Patrick Conlon – the University’s Centre for Energy Technology (CET) will undertake research to develop clean energy solutions for Adelaide Airport.

Minister Conlon today commended Adelaide Airport Limited and the Centre for Energy Technology for forging a partnership that would have long-term benefits. “This partnership further enhances South Australia’s reputation as a leader in ‘clean and green’ technologies and sustainable business practices,” Minister Conlon said. “The commitment from Adelaide Airport to invest in the University of Adelaide’s research will support innovation and provide both parties with strategic benefits. We are firmly supportive of new initiatives that will lead to new technologies that improve the environment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Australia.”

Adelaide Airport Limited (AAL) Managing Director, Phil Baker, says AAL aims to become the most ecologically sustainable airport in Australia. “Running a successful airport involves a great deal of energy use, which in turn results in a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Simply putting money into paying for carbon offsets doesn’t solve the underlying issues,” Mr Baker explains.

“At Adelaide Airport, we want to invest in the long-term future of our operations. This is why we have approached the Centre for Energy Technology at the University of Adelaide to partner with us to find cleaner, greener solutions.” In order to help reduce AAL’s carbon footprint, University staff and postgraduate students will assess the airport’s biggest areas of energy use and develop clean energy solutions that are specifically targeted to make the most impact. “Usually, the biggest percentage of any large organisation’s carbon footprint is the direct result of energy use, so it makes perfect sense for the Centre for Energy Technology to partner with Adelaide Airport on this major project,” says the Director of CET, Professor Gus Nathan.

“We’re excited by the foresight and leadership on this issue being shown by Adelaide Airport. We anticipate significant benefits from this partnership, not only for the airport but also for other public spaces, such as shopping centres and other airports overseas, in clean technology,” he says.

Specific issues to be investigated under the partnership include:

  • the use of renewable energy generation both on and off site – such as wind and solar energy
  • novel methods to reduce energy from heating, cooling and lighting
  • alternative approaches for ground transportation
  • adapting new technologies to AAL’s unique facilities and requirements.

“In addition to any benefits Adelaide Airport might receive from this partnership, our high visibility to the public makes this a perfect opportunity to raise community awareness of the long-term benefits of sustainable energy,” Mr Baker says.

The funding for this partnership will also support two scholarships for University of Adelaide PhD students to work on clean energy projects.

CET paper wins award

At the recent conference entitled “Practical Responses to Climate Change” organised by Engineers Australia and held in Melbourne, a paper co-authored by Fiona Paton (PhD student), Graeme Dandy and Holger Maier won the best paper award. The paper was presented by Graeme Dandy and was one of  64 papers presented at the conference. The award was based on the technical content of the paper and the quality of the presentation.

Paton F.L., Dandy G.C. and Maier H.R. (2010) Sensitivity of urban water supply security based on various global circulation models and emission scenarios, Practical Responses to Climate Change National Conference 2010, September 29-October 1, Melbourne, Australia

Download a copy of the paper here

New CET Publication

Adam Langman and Gus Nathan from the CET recently published a paper in Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science.

The title of the paper is ‘Influence of a combustion-driven oscillation on global mixing in the flame from a refinery flare’.

An assessment of the influence of strong combustion-driven oscillations on mixing rates and visible radiation in the flame from a full-scale refinery flare is reported.  The analysis reveals a consistent picture that the combustion-driven oscillations do not result in a significant change to the global mixing rate, but do increase the visible radiation. This is in contrast to previous investigations, using externally forced jets, where forcing at the preferred mode has been found to increase mixing rates and reduce radiation.

View full article and watch supplementary video


Podcast from Energy Futures – Stephen Grano talks about future impacts on mining.

The ninth seminar in the Energy Futures series “Impacts for Mining, Infrastructure and Transport Sectors” was held last Wednesday evening at the University of Adelaide.  The event was convened by Dr Jordan Parham with guest speakers Prof Stephen Grano (IMER, UofA), Russell Synnot (Australian Airports Association) and George Giannakodakis (Infraplan).

Individual presentations are also available on the Environment Institute’s website.

This seminar series is being hosted by the Centre for Energy Technology and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Click here to view the full programme.