Specialist research hub into the conversion of carbon dioxide into useful products opens at Monash University

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An ambitious new research Hub focused solely on technologies to transform carbon dioxide emissions opens today at Monash University.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Carbon Utilisation and Recycling (RECARB) will be officially launched by The Hon. Cassandra Fernando MP, Federal Member for Holt, on behalf of The Hon. Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education at Monash University’s Clayton campus.

Through a collaboration of international and national universities and industry partners RECARB will develop technologies to transform carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the energy and manufacturing sectors into useful products. The Hub will also develop the markets for the carbon embedded products.

The Hub opened its doors on 11 August, 2023 to begin a five year program led by Professor Paul Webley, Director and Professor Akshat Tanksale, Deputy Director of the Hub.

RECARB Director, Professor Paul Webley, Faculty of Engineering at Monash University, said research hubs provide an essential platform to bring together industry and academia to develop industry relevant research and translate it into practice,

“We need to change our thinking of carbon emissions from pollutants to useful feedstock. The RECARB hub aims to catalyse this change in thinking by working with industry, government, and university partners to develop and provide high quality solutions especially for the hard-to-abate sectors. The Hub will become Australia’s leading research initiative for leading the decarbonisation journey,” Professor Webley said.

“Monash has an outstanding track record in working with industry and university partners to develop high impact research. As one of Australia’s leading universities with a strong emphasis in sustainability, our Hub is well placed to lead the way in carbon recycling and reuse for future applications.”

The RECARB Hub will develop and pilot cutting edge, industry relevant technologies to help reduce and reuse carbon emissions and transform those emissions to high value products such as acetic acid, stock feed, methanol and other chemicals. It will play an increasingly important role in Australia’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.

The RECARB Hub will focus on the development of improved, low cost, scalable and green methods for the conversion of CO2 to intermediate and high value products.

Research will cover electrochemical, thermochemical and biological technologies. This will include research into the innovative direct air capture technology (DAC) for CO2 recycling. DAC offers a sustainable source of this greenhouse gas that can be harnessed to benefit agriculture and, more importantly, transformed into valuable products.

Within the energy and chemical manufacturing sectors, Plasmonics is emerging as a transformative field in the realm of sustainable chemistry, offering exciting possibilities for the photochemical conversion of COinto valuable chemicals.

At the heart of this innovative approach lies the exploration of novel multifunctional metal plasmonic nanomaterials, which promise to revolutionise the way solar energy is harnessed to drive these chemical transformations.

RECARB Deputy Director, Professor Akshat Tanksale from the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University, emphasised that the practical application of these technologies is crucial to the success of these technologies.

“Our aim is to develop pilot scale applications of CO2 to products and CO2 recycling so that industry can scale up and assess these processes for their business. For this research to make a difference to the environment we need to identify methods and frameworks for embedded emissions accounting that can unlock growing markets for abated carbon products and services,” Professor Tanksale said.

“Not only will our research be an investment for the future but we will also leave a highly skilled workforce with a deep knowledge in carbon-to-products technology and commercialisation for Australian captured carbon products.”

The Hub is supported by the ARC with AUD$5 million, along with a further AUD$5.8 million from universities and industry partners and AUD$11.8 million in-kind contributions.

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