Monash Engineering projects qualify in Eureka Prize finals

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Two Monash University-led research projects have been selected as finalists in Australia’s premier national science awards, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.

Both initiatives entail substantial advancements in renewable and sustainable energy for a low-carbon future, the university said in a news release. 

In the first project, which has been named a finalist for the Eureka Prize for Innovative Technology Use, Monash University joined forces with Australia’s national research organisation, CSIRO, to design windows that can efficiently generate solar electricity.

Monash researchers, led by Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Infrastructure) Professor Jacek Jasieniak of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Dr Jenny Zhou of the Department of Civil Engineering, collaborated with a group led by Dr Anthony Chesman of CSIRO to develop semi-transparent solar cells made from metal halide perovskites.

According to the university, perovskites are great candidates for integrated applications in buildings because of their physical properties, which make them very effective at generating electricity while still being transparent and able to be manufactured as very thin films. 

Additionally, studies have demonstrated how metal halide perovskites may be “tuned” to produce films with the ideal mix of light transmission and power generation.

The project’s future development work will concentrate on scaling up laboratory-based manufacturing techniques into production techniques suitable for window sizes frequently used in buildings.

In the second initiative, the Eureka Prize for Innovative Research in Sustainability has chosen a world-first online platform as a finalist. 

The technology, dubbed the Economic Fairways Mapper, enables users to construct precise maps to guide decisions about the location of resource development projects, Monash stated. 

The project was created by researchers under the direction of Dr Stuart Walsh of Monash’s Department of Civil Engineering and Dr Marcus Haynes of Geoscience Australia. 

It is intended to support the ethical and sustainable development of renewable energy and vital mineral resources in Australia.

In particular, the research team created an open-source toolkit to aid in the planning of renewable energy and mineral projects by providing access to multi-disciplinary information.

This can be used to identify the most sustainable locations for resource development in the early stages of project decision-making and investment when the potential for impact is greatest.

The two Monash finalists’ announcement was warmly received by Professor Rebekah Brown, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Senior Vice-President at Monash University.

“It’s such a proud moment to see the work of talented Monash researchers recognised at one of Australia’s most prestigious science awards,” said Professor Brown.

The 2023 Eureka Prize winners will be announced during a live broadcast event on Wednesday, 23 August 2023.