USQ researchers to share in $1.2m in R&D funding for next-gen technologies

Stephen Kuper

University of Southern Queensland researchers will share in more than $1.2 million worth of grants from the Australian Research Council to support the development of cutting-edge work in renewable energy, supersonics and astrophysics.

USQ researchers to share in $1.2m in R&D funding for next-gen technologies
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Education Minister Dan Tehan and Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh announced the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) on 8 November, providing a funding boost for the country’s promising research talent, including USQ’s Dr Min Hong and Dr Fabian Zander.

Dr Min Hong was awarded $400,116 in the latest funding release to develop materials that could revolutionise the renewable energy industry.

His research focuses on high-performance thermoelectric materials as a means to generate electricity from waste heat.

“A new generation of these materials could diversify the development of eco-friendly energy conversion technologies to replace the non-renewable carbon-based fossil fuels,” Dr Hong said.

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Dr Hong is already working with national and international experts at Northwestern University, USA; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA; Kyushu University, Japan; and University of Queensland.

Dr Fabian Zander is taking supersonics in a new direction, developing an air-breathing propulsion concept for engines that greatly exceed the speed of sound.

“An air-breathing rotating detonation engine is a theoretical next step for high-speed flight, but questions remain about how to use an air-breathing inlet to achieve improved engine efficiency,” Dr Zander said.

From supersonics to astrophysics, USQ received $426,696 for a project that will help change how humankind understands the solar system – working with Dr Xu Huang to search the stars for new exoplanets.

“The uniqueness of the solar system is an inspiring question that has driven the exoplanet field for decades. A key element of the formation and habitability of the Earth is the coexistence with Jupiter and Saturn,” Dr Huang explained. 

The ARC DECRA funding follows the university’s success in the ARC Future Fellowships for mid-career researchers earlier this month, with $888,000 announced for Dr Pingan Song from USQ Centre for Future Materials.

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