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UQ Collaborates on Sustainable Energy Project

The University of Queensland will play a critical role in a multi-million-dollar four-year project which will see universities and industry working together to build commercialisation in Australia’s critical mineral supply chain that will create 1300 jobs. A bid led by Curtin University and supported by UQ and James Cook University is the first under the Federal Government’s AU$ 242.7 million Trailblazer program.

The project has attracted 33 industry partners committing a further AU$ 90 million, in addition to the AU$ 50 million funding provided by the Federal Government, towards the aim of sourcing the critical minerals needed to support emerging technologies including electric vehicles, renewable energy products, low-emission power sources and consumer devices.

Professor Anna Littleboy, the leader of the Transitions in Mining program at UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, said that the Trailblazer funding will accelerate innovation and commercialisation by boosting collaboration between universities and industry to “change the game” in new minerals production.

The project will allow researchers from across the University to collaborate with business partners, scale-up innovation and work with entrepreneurs to develop and commercialise Australia’s new resources and minerals industries. Moreover, the best university and industry minds will be working together to secure a reliable supply of critical minerals for Australia, making sure innovation, knowledge and talent are used in the move towards net-zero emissions.

UQ has a big role in creating the workforce for the future of the critical minerals industry as Australia charts its pathway towards new energy technologies. This project could see pilot plants installed all the way up the east coast of Australia with UQ training the staff and turning out the graduates required to run this technology in the future, she said.

For example, UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology will expand its collaboration with an emerging mineral processing technology company to build a demonstration plant at UQ to manufacture zeolites from lithium refinery by-products. The valuable zeolites can potentially be used for carbon capture and utilisation.

Congratulating the bid team led by Curtin University, the UQ Vice-Chancellor said the Trailblazer Universities program brings together government, industry and universities, providing support and funding to build successful, enduring and innovative partnerships for the benefit of the economy. She noted that UQ is already positioned as a leader in technology transfer, so this is an exciting opportunity for the institution to work with its university partners to become world leaders in the translation of research outcomes into products, services, supply chains and new jobs for graduates in the resources industry.

This will also result in infrastructure and job creation across regional Queensland as the university helps find, extract and process a range of metals and minerals used in many emerging technologies.

UQ’s UniQuest and JKTech also supported this bid and leveraged strong industry connections that help mining companies achieve positive and sustainable outcomes. UniQuest is the commercialisation company of The University of Queensland. In partnership with UQ researchers, we create impact through the commercialisation of UQ intellectual property (IP).

JKTech offers consultancy and laboratory services, specialist software and equipment, and professional development courses to help mining companies achieve positive and sustainable outcomes. JKTech is aligned with The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) which includes two leading mineral research centres that provide university teams with access to cutting-edge research and technology.

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