Transportation Fuels and Energy Conversion

A key aspect of the research in this program, which is co-led by Associate Professor Scott Donne and Dr Michael Stockenhuber, is focused on hydrogen, in recognition of its growing importance as a fuel and its role as an energy carrier.

Our research efforts include investigating the synthesis of hydrogen from fossil fuels such as coal, biomass and natural gas.

We have an active program on micro-energy systems for small metal applications such as laptops, mobile phones etc. These miniaturised systems use a fuel to produce H2 and then run a miniature fuel cell. The Micro-Energy sub program is led by Professor Behdad Moghtaderi

Micro-Energy System sub programs:

  • Micro-energy system facility
  • Laser Laboratory
  • Micro fabrication Laboratory (clean room).

We also have projects which convert hydrogen to chemicals such as methanol (from CO2) and ammonia (from N2 ). These products can serve as fuels or chemical feed-stocks, where they can be converted into a myriad of useful products which includes transportation fuels.

In addition, we examine new and novel developments in electrochemical energy generation, such as next generation batteries and electrical storage devices, as well as the optimisation of energy usage on electrical power grids.


The Laboratories are currently investigating:

  • Kinetics of Chemical Reactions in Combustion Systems: Reaction mechanisms and rates, formation of toxic by-products in fires, smoke generation, removal of combustion-propagating radicals from flames, chain initiation and break-up, flame ignition and spontaneous combustion.
  • Extinction of Flames and Mitigation of Fires: Interaction between fires and water mist, behaviour of foams, gels and powders in fires, gaseous suppressants, their global warming and ozone depletion properties, flame quenching, flammability limits, burning velocities and combustion waves.
  • Mass and Heat Transfer in Fires: Emission of thermal radiation and its mitigation, thermodynamic and transport properties of flame radicals, heat release and cone calorimetry, thermal decomposition and stability of materials.
  • Fluid Mechanics in Fires: Mixing and buoyancy, fire spread movement of smoke and toxic chemicals, large scale natural and industrial fires and pre and post-flashover fires.

Examples of research interests

Examples of the specific research interests include:

  • the Formation of dioxin and furans during combustion of treated and contaminated wood
  • the Spontaneous ignition of zinc dust
  • the Chemical gassing of emulsion explosives
  • the Contamination of soil in Newcastle
  • the Conversion of halons into useful products and
  • the Toxic products from bush fires.

Program Co-Leaders

Program Researchers

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.