Waste to Value
The Waste to Value research group investigates new, more efficient and effective ways to harness energy from waste and renewable resources, and store it for reliable later use.
Our research focuses include:
- hydrothermal carbonisation and liquefaction, to produce sustainable solid fuels and biocrude
- incorporating concentrated solar thermal (CST) energy in chemical processes to produce fuels and minerals
- laser diagnostics for reaction and multiphase non-isothermal flows
- green ammonia production
- CO2 capture and conversion to fuels
- biomass gasification using sunlight.
Through our research, we aim to:
- enrich humankind’s ability to generate and store renewable energy
- provide sustainable waste-management solutions
- determine optimum methods of scaling up hydrothermal processes for industrial application
- enable CST energy’s low-cost incorporation into existing industrial processes, and quantify its benefits
- determine solar intermittency’s impact on large-scale continuous plant operations
- propose and evaluate novel concepts for more efficient and effective renewable energy storage
- reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions and ensure its energy security
- turn South Australia's abundant solar and wind power into an export commodity.
Our Waste to Value group’s research is internationally recognised, and has had numerous real-world applications. For example, its work on hydrothermal processing has led to a demonstration-scale continuous hydrothermal liquefaction reactor (producing microalgae and biosolids from wastewater) being constructed and tested.
Similarly, the group’s research into CST’s industrial applications led to a large national grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to pursue incorporating CST into the alumina production process. This ongoing project could potentially lead to CST’s incorporation into high-heat industry’s existing large-scale processes, and reduce their greenhouse emissions by up to 50%.
Strong industry links
Our research ultimately benefits all society, but has particularly immediate relevance in certain industrial areas.
For example, our hydrothermal processing research applies to industries producing wet carbonaceous materials, such as purpose-grown energy crops (e.g. micro- and macro-algae), agricultural residues (e.g. grape marc from winemaking) and municipal wastewater sludges.
Our research into and use of CST energy in chemical processes is useful for high-heat heavy industries (e.g. alumina production) wishing to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It has strong potential to aid sustainable fuel developers.
We advise on, and lead, projects relating to:
- renewable energy solutions
- assessing waste streams’ potential value and capacity for fuel conversion, such as for agricultural and wastewater industries
- incorporating solar energy into existing industry processes (or designing new processes), and assessing its impact on carbon emissions and/or fossil fuel use
- assessing solar intermittency’s impact on industrial processes
- future fuel generation.
We have expertise across a wide range of areas. Many of our researchers are available to assist with research project supervision for Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy students.
We collaborate with other universities, including: