The University of Newcastle, Australia

New is courageous. While global warming and the energy crisis threaten our planet’s future, the odds don’t faze University of Newcastle Lecturer in Chemical Engineering Dr. Jessica Allen. Step by step, Jess and her team are reinventing the way we produce energy and materials—with the potential for a profound positive impact on our environment.

Our current energy system, in Australia and globally, is not sustainable. The fossil fuels which power our world are limited and, more importantly, their use results in the dangerous emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which contribute to climate change,” says Jess.

Jess works on a technology called Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC).

DCFC cuts out the messy process of combusting fuels and harvesting their heat,” she explains.

It eliminates the need to combust fuel sources like coal or waste biomass, instead harnessing the power from an electrochemical reaction that is both far cleaner and far more efficient. In fact, DCFC yields over twice as much power as burning coal.

DCFC technology isn’t commercially available yet, but its great promise earned Jess and her team an ambitious grant. They hope to take it to market very soon in countries that rely on coal power such as India, China, and Indonesia. There, it will help to greatly reduce the risk of cancer, asthma, and other respiratory issues exacerbated by air pollution.

For Jess, this work fulfills a deeply-rooted sense of purpose.

When I was in high school and first learnt about the energy crisis and the impacts of global warming, I thought that someone, somewhere must be working hard to find a solution and that surely they would fix this before it became catastrophic.”

But as she grew older, she realised that it wasn’t enough for “someone” to find the solution. She knew she had to be the one to create the change—and her path led her to the University of Newcastle.

Through engineering and science, I could make a difference that changes our world for the better. The idea that the technologies I develop could be implemented on a large scale, a scale that could make a measurable impact on global emissions, is incredibly exciting to me and fills me with purpose in my work.”

As a leader on the front lines of the renewable energy revolution, Jess is shaping a better world for today and tomorrow.

Dr Jessica Allen

Dr Jessica Allen

Lecturer in Chemical Engineering

Through engineering and science, I could make a difference that changes our world for the better.

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