New links to world-class research

By Jason Oxenbridge

WORLD class research facilities are now virtually on Griffith’s doorstep following a joint laboratory agreement signed in Beijing by Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor.

Griffith University has committed $750,000 over the next five years to the project, which will enable the sharing of new research ideas, increase access to broad expertise and allow it tap world-class facilities that are unavailable in Australia.

Research Development Officer Vanessa Lao from the Griffith University Office for Research, said the Memorandum of Understanding is a significant development in Griffith’s efforts to expand international research collaborations.

“It’s a new model in terms of establishing a multifaceted and long-term partnership with multiple partners in China to advance cooperation and training in energy and environment materials research, where there are real cash commitments from each party,” she said.

“Already, the initiative is in operation with exchanges of postdocs happening across institutions.”

As part of the agreement, Griffith will host the first international conference under the agreement at the Gold Coast in February 2013.

The multi-lateral research co-operation MoU was signed with four key parties, including the largest university in China, Jilin University, which has 100,000 students. The Institute of Solid State Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and South China University of Technology (SCUT) are also partners.

Professor Huijun Zhao and Associate Professor Xiangdong Yao are leading the collaboration from Griffith with discussions now underway on prospective joint projects .

“SCUT has advanced facilities required for research and development in hydrogen storage and lithium batteries and in particular it has developed strong collaborations with industries for commercialisation,” said Professor Zhao.

“Overall, all the key chief investigators of this joint centre will build up the research strengths together, through effective collaborations, to solve some key problems of human currently facing in energy and environment.

“A lead researcher from Jilin Uni is a world leading scientist in porous organic frameworks for gas adsorption, especially for CO2 capture and has also commercialised his technology with Chinese industries.

“Associate Professor Yao from Griffith is working on hydrogen storage, high surface materials for gas adsorption and catalysts design. Materials research for energy such as photocatalysts, batteries and catalysis for fuel cells will also be researched.”

Clean energy and sustainable environment have been the top priorities of the Chinese government’s economic development policy as reflected in the nation’s 11th and 12th, 5-Year Strategic Development Plans.

The government has sharply increased research funding devoted to the development of advanced materials for energy and environmental technologies.

Ms Lao said these advanced materials played an irreplaceable role because any technological solution to the clean energy and sustainable environment problems would heavily rely on the development of new advanced materials.

After more than a decade of heavy investment and consistent effort, China has now become one of the leading nations in these research fields.