UNSW’s smart microrecycling technology secures funding boost to commercialise

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A new Aussie made technology that can reform waste into new materials is edging closer to commercialisation thanks to new NSW government funding announced this week.

Developed by UNSW Sydney’s SMaRT Centre, the so-called ‘Microfactorie concept’ can reform waste materials including glass, single-use coffee cups, used coffee grounds and textiles into ceramic-based panel products that can be used as tables, countertops and tiles.

In announcing the funding recipients, NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said UNSW Sydney’s SMaRT Centre has secured nearly $1 million in funding through the State Government’s Physical Sciences Fund to help commercialise a technology that can reform waste materials into value-added products for use in the built environment.

“NSW is renowned for its innovative science sector, which is why we’re not only investing in developing and nurturing ideas but commercialising them too,” Mr Stokes said.

“Our inaugural winners are turning rubbish into luxe building products, using drones to save the environment, improving the efficiency of mines and the wine industry, and literally pulling water from thin air,” he said.

Director of the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT), Professor Veena Sahajwalla said new funding would ‘help advance commercialisation prospects of the team’s microrecylcing science’.

“We’ve developed manufacturing technology and capability so waste can be reformed into value-added materials and products, and kept out of landfill,” she said.

“Environmental benefits aside, this scientifically developed technology will help to drive the emerging circular economy, create jobs and enhance social and economic outcomes, not just for local communities but more broadly for the nation.”

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UNSW was one of five winners to share in $5 million from the new Physical Sciences Fund of the NSW Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer. The other inaugural recipients include a light-weight data gathering drone, a magnetic resonance analyser, architectural surfaces manufactured from recycled materials, agricultural technologies and a device that produces drinking water from atmospheric moisture.

Image credit: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/