Fighting Global Warming
While global warming and the energy crisis threaten our planet’s future, the odds don’t faze University of Newcastle lecturer in chemical engineering Dr Jessica Allen.
Step by step, Dr Allen and her team are reinventing the way we produce energy and materials – with the potential for a profound positive impact on our environment.
Our current energy system, in Australia and globally, is not sustainable.
“The fossil fuels powering our world are limited and, more importantly, their use results in the dangerous emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which contribute to climate change,” said Dr Allen.
Dr Allen works on a technology called Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC).
“DCFC cuts out the messy process of combusting fuels and harvesting their heat,” she explained.
It eliminates the need to combust fuel sources like coal or waste biomass, instead harnessing the power from an electrochemical reaction that is both far cleaner and far more efficient. In fact, DCFC yields over twice as much power as burning coal.
DCFC technology isn’t commercially available yet, but its great promise earned Dr Allen and her team a major grant.
They hope to take it to market very soon in countries that rely on coal power such as India, China and Indonesia. There, it will help to greatly reduce the risk of cancer, asthma and other respiratory issues exacerbated by air pollution.