Team’s aim is a cleaner, safer sup­ply

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View -

A SUS­TAIN­ABLE fu­ture for the gas and pe­tro­leum in­dus­tries is a cru­cial part of a new push for stronger ties to in­dus­try by the Univer­sity of West­ern Aus­tralia.

The Univer­sity has set up a ded­i­cated cen­tre for re­search and in­dus­try li­ai­son in the en­ergy field - known as the Cen­tre for Pe­tro­leum, Fu­els and En­ergy.

The cen­tre’s di­rec­tor, Prof Dongke Zhang, who com­menced work at UWA in early March, says it is im­por­tant for in­dus­try to con­sider its fu­ture en­ergy needs: Of the to­tal oil we con­sume ( in Aus­tralia), we pro­duce 69- 70 per­cent. By the year 2030, more than 50 per cent will be im­ported. This will have a dra­matic im­pact, not only upon the cost, but also en­ergy se­cu­rity.’’

He says the abun­dance of coal and nat­u­ral gas in Aus­tralia en­abled the de­vel­op­ment of al­ter­na­tive fu­els - in­clud­ing con­vert­ing coal and gas to liq­uid fuel - to com­ple­ment the use of pe­tro­leum.

The cen­tre will work closely with Tim Shana­han, the for­mer head of the West Aus­tralian Cham­ber of Min­er­als and En­ergy, who was lured to the Univer­sity last year to be­come di­rec­tor of the newly es­tab­lished En­ergy and Min­er­als Ini­tia­tive.

Pre­vi­ously, re­search in the area was di­vided into sep­a­rate fields - through the Schools of Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing and Oil and Gas En­gi­neer­ing.

Pro­fes­sor Brett Kirk, head of the School of Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing, says the cen­tre will help build stronger links to in­dus­try.

We have had par­tic­u­lar suc­cess with Chevron and Wood­side over the years, as well as a range of other part­ners,’’ he says. We are now ex­pand­ing into biomass and al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources.

We are look­ing at min­imis­ing CO2 emis­sions and re­duc­tion of green­house gases and broad­en­ing our clean coal tech­nol­ogy.’’

The cen­tre will also ex­am­ine re­new­able bio­fu­els, such as bioal­co­hol and biodiesel.

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