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12 July 2021 Back to news

Deakin’s new Hub for world-leading energy storage and conversion

Deakin warmly welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement for the University to take stewardship of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub in New Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies.

Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan confirmed the Government is providing $5 million over five years for the Hub, as part of $25 million to fund five new ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs that foster strategic partnerships between university-based researchers and industry organisations.

Alfred Deakin Professor Ying (Ian) Chen, Deakin’s Chair in Nanotechnology at the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), will lead the program and is excited to start planning operations aimed at delivering tangible benefits for society in the complex and critically important energy sector.

“I’m humbled to lead this world-leading transformation research hub. It gives me a great sense of purpose and focus as I know it will for the rest of our highly accomplished teams from IFM and our Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE), and other universities whose collective expertise will be harnessed,” Professor Chen said.

“One main goal is to develop new safe, efficient and sustainable energy storage and conversion technologies to eliminate the very serious fire risk and environmental issues caused by current technologies.

“Doing so will be a major societal advance. Energy reliability and sustainability are critically important to our society, and nowhere more so than in energy storage. Current energy technologies are reliant on the production of more than one billion lithium-ion batteries every year, to power consumer electronics alone.

“Such staggering numbers of batteries bring with them significant issues around sustainability, end-of-life recycling, and disposal. Another challenge we face is the unsatisfactory energy density and slow charging performance of current lithium-ion batteries. They cannot meet the increasing demands from widespread and emerging applications including electric vehicles, portable devices (i.e. smart phones) and a vast number of industry tools.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Alfred Deakin Professor, Julie Owens, warmly welcomed the announcement and its focus for Deakin along with its university partners and industry, to drive innovative research solutions in such an important technology field.

“Australia’s capacity to lead the world in clean energy application and related technology transition is immense,” Professor Owens said.

“This is a welcome opportunity for our researchers and students to link with domestic and international industries, and attack major energy-related challenges faced across the world.

“Through Deakin’s stewardship of this Hub in New Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies, we have the expertise and linkages to unify the best and brightest minds across research and industry.

“This will deliver global benefits in a critical field from right here in Victoria and demonstrate that what we do as a university, and what we do as a collection of universities and industry partners, really matters.”

The program will draw together a vibrant network of 19 leading researchers from six Australian universities who are contributing $2.8 million cash and $4.4m in-kind; in addition to Deakin’s the $4.8M cash and $5.9M in-kind commitment.

The other Australian universities are University of Queensland, University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, and University of Southern Queensland.

The Hub is aimed to strategically position Australia as a world leader in the emerging energy storage and conversion sectors, ensuring Australian industry can maintain a competitive advantage and leverage a unique mineral wealth position in this critically important sector.

Deakin’s Nanotechnology team at IFM has 20 years’ research experience developing advanced battery technology. Their world leading research in this field has been recognised by recent ARC five-star ranking in the last round of Excellence in Research for Australia. The outcomes of their research have been commercialised with substantial investment from Australian industries through two new start-up companies.

Professor Owens acknowledged support for the new Hub from Deakin’s IFM researchers Dr Mokhles Rahman, Dr Baozhi Yu, and Dr Srikanth Mateti; SEBE researchers Associate Professor Wenrong Yang, Alfred Deakin Professor Colin Barrow and Professor David Cahill; and the Deakin Research team led by Dr Tracey Mcinerney.

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