Leading change

Our researchers are on a mission to reduce the world's greenhouse gas emissions

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi is on a mission to solve global energy challenges through world-leading research to develop low emissions coal technologies, renewable energy technologies and engineering solutions to improve energy efficiency in industry.

"I am driven by a desire to develop technologies that will help reduce greenhouse emissions. The future of our planet relies on it," says Professor Behdad Moghtaderi.

It is this passion that has equipped the chemical engineer to take a leading role in the University of Newcastle's Centre for Energy, a national leader in the research field of new-generation clean and renewable energy production. The Centre is a key component of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), a world-class interdisciplinary research facility on the University campus.

A consultant to government and industry, Professor Moghtaderi is a global thought leader, anticipating priorities for change and development in the energy sector. As a result, he has attracted more than $32 million in research funding in the past 12 years.

"We have recognised the research opportunities, and we are delivering results that are shaping government and industry agendas."

It is this influence and expertise that is generating sustainability outcomes on a global scale. His latest work involving Ventilation Air Methane, or VAM, may hold the key to unlocking one of the underground coal mining industries greatest environmental challenges. With the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from underground coal mining operations by as much as 90 per cent, Professor Moghtaderi's VAM technology could lead to emissions reductions equivalent to the removal of 2.8 million cars from Australian roads.

Professor Moghtaderi gained popular attention when his GRANEX power platform featured on the ABC TV's The New Inventors in 2011. GRANEX, developed in conjunction with Granite Power Pty Ltd, is an emission-free engine that turns heat from low-grade sources into electricity.

It is revolutionary because it is capable of using heat sources that might not otherwise be viably recycled, such as the flue gas from a coal-fired power station, exhaust from a diesel engine or heat from a geothermal source.

Commercialised examples of his technologies are abundant and can be found throughout the world in power stations, the mining and minerals processing industry and community assets such as swimming pools.

Professor Moghtaderi compares his technologies to 'insurance' for climate change.

"People take out home and car insurance to protect their assets and themselves from unknown events in the future. A similar rationale can be applied to the technologies that fascinate me. We might not fully understand the impacts of climate change but are we comfortable with doing nothing and hoping that everything will be OK?"

Professor Moghtaderi firmly believes the University is at the international forefront of research into clean and sustainable energy sources.

"The University's engineering area has always been a leader and now, with our Centre for Energy and the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources on campus, Newcastle really is Australia's hub in energy research."

As a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Professor Moghtaderi is taking steps to ensure this tradition continues by inspiring and cultivating the next generation of researchers.

"I always enter my first lecture with a hot coffee, which I place under a model of an engine and propeller. The heat from my coffee powers the propeller blades of the model. It's an example of the GRANEX technology. I have been using that demonstration for ten years now and will never grow tired of seeing how excited it makes my students."

With such enthusiasm for learning, it is easy to see how Professor Moghtaderi has received several teaching awards.

Looking to the future, Professor Moghtaderi hopes to continue his exploration of community applications of his technology.

"We recently installed GRANEX technology to heat a local swimming pool. This generated great outcomes for the community as it is now a recreational resource that can be used all year round, instead of just the warmer months."

Visit the Centre for Energy website.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.