UC engineers excel in MBIE Endeavour Funding

Three UC engineers have been awarded research funding totalling $11.8 million for the next 3-5 years in the latest round of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Funding, announced by Hon Dr Megan Woods today. 

Professors Conan Fee, Shusheng Pang and Mathieu Sellier received funding for research they are leading in the areas of renewable energy and advanced manufacturing. 

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Professor Conan Fee, School of Product Design, UC Engineering – 3D printed porous media for process engineering ($9,812,550 funded over five years)

This research project will revolutionise manufacturing processes that have only changed incrementally over the last two centuries. Using advances in 3D print technologies, the research programme will develop ways to create structures of complex solid and fluid channel geometric design to deliver heat and mass exchange more efficiently. Work to date shows that 3D-printed triply periodic minimal surfaces (3D-TPMS) offer significant advantages over existing heat exchanger and porous bed designs, but the knowledge gap between engineering science and computational tools required for the design of 3D-printed structures is preventing implementation in real-world applications, which the research programme will address.

Professor Shusheng Pang, Chemical and Process Engineering – Integrated chemical looping and oxygen uncoupling with advanced biomass gasification, for renewable hydrogen production and carbon dioxide capture ($999,999 funded over three years)

This research will develop a new system that combines advanced technology of biomass steam gasification with the capability of Hot Lime Labs for developing new carbon dioxide sorbents and oxygen carrier materials. This research will develop a new process and materials to produce bio-hydrogen and capture carbon dioxide by using New Zealand wood biomass resources from log harvesting and wood processing. The bio-hydrogen produced could be used as transport fuel, a chemical feedstock for methanol, ammonia and oil refineries. At present 95 per cent of hydrogen used in these industries is produced from fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide captured from this process could be used in plant greenhouses, fertiliser manufacturing and methanol or ethanol production.   

Professor Mathieu Sellier, Mechanical Engineering – Development of a multi-axis spin-coating system to coat curved surfaces ($1,000,000 funded over three years)

By developing a system with the capability to spin-coat curved surfaces product developers will have more flexibility in the shapes they can produce. Traditionally, spin coating is achieved by depositing a liquid on the surface and then spinning it off to leave a thin film that will solidify. Non-uniformity of liquid distribution is the biggest challenge to spin-coating curved surfaces. For the first time, Professor Sellier’s Smart Idea will develop optimal flow control algorithms using the theory of Partial Differential Equation and a multi-axis system to achieve uniform distribution of liquid onto a curved surface which will revolutionise the possibilities of product development.