Waste heat initiative seeks industry partners

A new Australian research project is seeking industry partners to help harness potentially the largest available energy source on the planet: waste heat.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of Adelaide, and UNSW Sydney are joining forces to establish a hub for sustainable waste heat innovation and transformation, through the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ARC-ITTC) scheme. As part of the proposal, they are looking for industry partners.

Untapped potential

According to the project organisers, 50-70 per cent of all the energy used worldwide is wasted as heat, and 40 per cent of waste heat is low-grade (40–100°C), available 24/7.

Despite this potential, waste heat remains underutilised. The project team point to a lack of government incentives and policies, the challenges of integrating waste heat recovery technologies and thermal management solutions into existing industrial settings, and the limited economic viability of those technologies at scale.

The ARC Training Centre for Sustainable Waste Heat Innovation and Transformation will seek to overcome these obstacles.

Technology and training

Centre Director and Professor of Engineering at QUT Emilie Sauret has an academic background in Organic Rankine Cycles – systems that are designed to recover low and medium-grade heat for power generation – and in heat exchanger design.

She says the goal of the centre is twofold: collaborative research and development, and training the clean energy workforce of the future.

“My first aim is to create a platform where we collectively and collaboratively work on increasing the widespread adoption of waste heat recovery and thermal management solutions through innovative, resilient, and flexible energy and thermal systems integration,” says Professor Sauret.

“As an educator, my second objective through the centre is to provide diverse, equitable and inclusive high-quality industry-integrated training and development opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students and early career researchers and engineers within our national universities and industry networks. I hope to upskill our workforce in thermal and energy management to promote energy-efficient practices and sustainable use of energy resources.”

Seeking industry collaboration

At this stage the project is looking for industry partners to support the proposal. Professor Sauret says these could be from a wide range of backgrounds.

“We are seeking end-users who could apply and demonstrate the outcomes of the centre, such as commercial buildings, hospitals, shopping centres, data centres, port infrastructures, food and beverage manufacturers,” she says.

“Or they could be partners who have unique infrastructure, technologies, and expertise in the field of waste heat recovery and thermal management. We are also interested in partners who can deliver the technologies to end users, and government agencies.”

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