Space, solar and autonomous transport facilities among Linkage grant success

New facilities for testing space technologies, automated transport and green energy solutions are among QUT projects funded in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Program grants.

QUT will receive more than $2.8 million in grants and $5.4 million in partner support towards six projects through ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) and Linkage Project schemes, and over $1.2 million towards a world-class lunar testbed as partner in a UNSW-led bid.

Associate Professor Thierry Peynot from the QUT Centre for Robotics will lead development of a 20 x 10 m lunar testbed – the largest of its kind in Australia – to simulate different planetary environments and support robotics, sensing and other research applied to space.

The QUT lunar testbed will provide unique capabilities within QUT’s new $5 million space technology precinct to be opened in 2022 at the Kelvin Grove campus.

It will form part of a Space Resources Environmental Analogue Facility (SREAF) collaboration with UNSW, which will host a smaller indoor testbed and dirty thermal vacuum chamber (DTVAC) for testing in different temperature and pressure conditions.

Rover and other space technologies proven in the new facilities are expected to qualify for operation on the Moon, enabling participation in the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars programs.

QUT will also lead LIEF projects to establish facilities for molecular discoveries and materials science, automated transport systems testing, and an integrated facility platform for fabricating and testing module-sized cost-effective solar cells, and Linkage Projects on curriculum development for marginalised young people, e-scooter use, and new methods for creating cost-effective solar cells.

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Projects

  • Professor Sebastien Glaser from Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q) and QUT Centre for Future Mobility will lead a $4.7 million project to establish DynaMix-FM, a new future mobility research facility that will support physical and digital testing of new generation connected and automated transport systems. The facility will be located at the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) Mobility Centre of Excellence at Mount Cotton.
  • Professor Hongxia Wang from the QUT Centre for Materials Science will lead a $1.63 million project to develop a platform with essential suite of facilities for enabling upscaled demonstration of emerging photovoltaic materials. The proposed infrastructure bridges the gap between lab research and commercialisation and is expected to boost industrial viability of perovskite solar cell fabrication.
  • Professor Stephen Blanksby, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research Infrastructure, and member of the QUT Centre for Materials Science, will lead a $1.52 million project to make next-generation (cyclic) ion-mobility mass spectrometry available to Australian researchers for the first time. New capability to rapidly assign molecular structures to materials is expected to drive biomolecular discovery across both plant and animal kingdoms and accelerate advances in materials science.

Linkage Projects

  • Professor Hongxia Wang will also work with Greatcell Solar Australia on a $1.1 million project to develop new methods for creating stable perovskite solar cells with green solvents for large scale production. Outcomes are expected to advance Australia’s manufacturing capability in the global photovoltaic technology market, predicted to reach US$34.8 billion by 2027.
  • Professor Narelle Haworth from the CARRS-Q and QUT Centre for Future Mobility will lead investigations on e-scooter potential to safely replace short car trips and improve public transport access. She will work with the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Bird Rides Australia on the $1 million project.
  • Professor Martin Mills from the QUT Centre for Inclusive Education will lead a $905,000 project to work with teachers and the Australian Government Department of Education on a curriculum framework and pedagogical approaches that ensure marginalised young people can access the same options as their peers and have broader future opportunities.

With QUT contributions, the projects have a combined value of $10.9 million. The ARC grants announced in December 2021 were funded through its Linkage Program, which aims to encourage national and international research collaborations and strengthen innovation systems.

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