Environmentally sustainable ARC projects awarded almost $2 million in funding

Friday, 26 March 2021

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has announced its latest round of funding for Linkage Project grants, with three University of Newcastle projects attracting funding totalling $1,868,005.

Eucalyptus trees

The projects reflect the University’s strong commitment to sustainability, including working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote Indigenous knowledges in the management of country and culture.

  • $1,356,005 for Dr Paul Hodge and the Yandaarra team to develop and model Indigenous-led land practices, with the aim of enhancing Australia’s ability to respond to disruptive environmental change on the NSW mid-north coast.

    Led by Aunty Shaa Smith and Gumbaynggirr Country, inter-species communication – with a particular focus on koalas, whales and plants – and innovative songline mapping is expected to generate new knowledge in Indigenous-led, Country-led environmental practice. The benefits are set to include the nurturing of biodiversity corridors and the development of environmental best practice.
  • $352,000 for Associate Professor Jiabao Yi, whose team is creating a new method to remove and degrade of microplastics in contaminated water systems. Previous work from the University of Newcastle showed that humans are ingesting around 250 grams of plastic per year, with most entering our systems through water.

    This new project will use halloysite clay combined with magnetised nanoparticles to adsorb and decompose microplastics in water treatment, leading to cleaner waterways.
  • $160,000 for Professor Graham Goodwin to improve the operation of bio-fuelled boilers in the sugar industry. Boilers used in the sugar industry burn the cane residual remaining after the sugar syrup is extracted to generate steam, some of which generates electricity, with excess power exported to the grid. However, poor fuel consistency and conditions often hinder production.

    Professor Goodwin is using novel approaches to modelling and control of the combustion process with the expected outcome being more reliable steam production and better electricity generation – leading to improved biofuel energy generation across the country – as well as improved sugar production and safer boiler operation.

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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.