UniSQ’s manufacturing and fertiliser development projects secure gov’t funding

Associate Professor Lei Ge. Image credit: UniSQ

The University of Southern Queensland has received grant funding from the Australian Department of Education to support two research projects that seek to develop alternative products for major industries that have the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Department of Education unveiled the first two tranches of Australia’s Economic Accelerator Seed Grants to help translate concepts into commercialisation. 

One of the grant recipients Dr Omar Alajarmeh, a senior research fellow (Civil Composites) from the Centre for Future Materials, will focus on the development of bendable thermoplastic glass fibre-reinforced polymer composites – a greener and cheaper manufacturing option. 

“These high-performing and low-cost composites are made by pultruding glass fibres and infusing with waste thermoplastics,” Dr Alajarmeh said.

“These composites will offer a sustainable solution for the construction and resource sectors by increasing the service life of critical infrastructures, as well as having lower C02 emission and less energy consumption compared to traditional manufacturing methods.”

Alajarmeh’s research team for the project includes Professor Allan Manalo and industry partner Beyond Materials Group. 

Led by Associate Professor Lei Ge, the second project to secure the grant seeks to use Iignite or “brown coal” in slow-release fertilisers to help ease greenhouse gas emissions, enhance fertiliser effectiveness, and significantly reduce nutrient run-off to the waterways. 

“The proposed lignite-based products not only have the potential to overcome the cost barrier of market-ready polymer-embedded SRFs but can also remove the use of polymer coating plus the release of micro-plastics from the fertiliser industry,” Associate Professor Ge said.

Industry partners for this project include Omnia Specialities, Sustainable Solutions Global, APIED, and Australian Engineering.