UNSW Sydney’s Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre has received a 2019 BHERT (Business Higher Education Round Table) Award for its recycling-focused research and development activities, conducted in collaboration with industry partners.
The ‘Award for Outstanding Collaboration In Research and Development: Major Partnerships’ recognises excellence in research and development undertaken jointly by researchers in tertiary education institutes and partners in business and industry.
The SMaRT Centre, led by founder Professor Veena Sahajwalla, was recognised for the invention of its ‘Green Steel’ technology in collaboration with, originally, OneSteel and then with Newcastle-based steelmaker MolyCop, which is taking the technology across its global operations.
Polymer Injection Technology — known as Green Steel — was developed by Prof Sahajwalla and her team. The process involves using old rubber tyres as a replacement for coking coal, a source of carbon that is vital in steelmaking. Green Steel has diverted millions of tyres from landfill and has become one of Australia’s most important manufacturing innovations of the last two decades, addressing significant environmental issues at the same time as improving the performance and competitiveness of Australian businesses.
Accepting the award on behalf of her research team, Prof Sahajwalla said, “This award is not just recognition for us as researchers, scientists and engineers but for our fantastic industry partner MolyCop, with whom we have collaborated over many years. It is acknowledgement of a fantastic Australian company that embraces innovation and investment in R&D in partnership with university, and MolyCop is now a world leader with this technology and its ongoing partnership with us.”
BHERT CEO Dr Peter Binks said, “Professor Sahajwalla has established a leadership position for Australia in low-emission steelmaking, and in doing so has provided both growth opportunities for Australian steel and helped reduce environmental challenges for the nation.
“Her innovation and resourcefulness over the last decade have been remarkable.
“Our panel was impressed with the partnership with OneSteel to develop and commercialise the technology, and now with MolyCop to make it available in international markets.”
Prof Sahajwalla said, “This type of technology not only addresses the waste and environmental issues, but creates a whole new circular economy where materials are kept in use for as long as possible and can help local manufacturers create new products and items from reformed waste, bringing about wider social benefits.
“The recent decision by all Australian governments to ban the exporting of our recyclable materials to countries that are increasingly resistant to taking our waste is a real opportunity to help expand the reach of homegrown research innovations for the benefit of our local communities and industries.”