The Dow Chemical Company and The University of Queensland have unveiled a strategic partnership that will establish the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

Funded through a Dow contribution worth $10 million over the next six years, the newl Centre will pursue a program of research and collaboration aimed at harnessing solutions to the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.

“This is a lighthouse initiative - hot-housing innovation at the urban energy, water and carbon nexus, which will attract international attention to the issues of sustainability and position Dow and UQ as leaders, achievers and contributors to society,” Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said.

The University of Wollongong and BlueScope Steel have joined forces with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, one of the world’s leading renewable energy and sustainable building research organisations, in a new solar technology research and demonstration project with the support of $477,000 from the Australian Solar Institute.

The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has announced a broad investigation into hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Legislation amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been referred for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications.

Australians are paying more and more for electricity, with the country already facing one of the highest prices in the developed world, according to the Australian Electricity Prices: an International Comparison.

The Australian energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released findings that that a changing economic landscape, a more energy-conscious public, the impact of rooftop solar photovoltaic installations and milder weather have all contributed to lower than forecast electricity demand across eastern and south eastern Australia.

The Australian Government has awarded a $1.9 million grant to National ICT Australia (NICTA) Ltd's  $5 million project to provide enhanced data for targeted geothermal exploration as part of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) Emerging Renewables Program.

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) and Korea have combined their expertise in polymer patterning and materials science in a bid to develop new-generation solar cells.

UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) Director, Professor Peter Gray, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

It will allow AIBN Professor Ajayan Vinu's research group to work closely with Yonsei Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor Eunkyoung Kim, and School of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Cheolmin Park.

Professor Vinu said the collaboration would encourage “the creation of new science and new products”, including efforts to improve the efficiency of solar cells.

He said AIBN would bring expertise in materials science, particularly Prof Vinu's work on and porous semiconducting and bio-nanomaterials.

Yonsei researchers would match this expertise with their knowledge of polymer patterning and fabrication.

“We can't all be experts in every field. That is why we are collaborating with these experts in this field,” Professor Vinu said.

“We have expertise in the fabrication of porous functionalised semiconducting nanostructures that will maximise quantum efficiency of dye sensitized or organic solar cells, while the Yonsei researchers have know-how in designing the various types of solar cell device.

“The fusion of materials development and device fabrication can help us to achieve a new solar cell technology or product with a low cost, which is going to make a huge revolution in the solar industry.”

Beyond collaborating on research, the bond between AIBN and Yonsei includes joint conferences, student exchanges and plans for a joint lab in Korea.

AIBN will host the third joint International Conference on Emerging and Advanced Nanomaterials in Brisbane from October 22-25.

The institute has welcomed visiting Korean student Sehwan Kim to the Vinu research group for a three-month internship.

The institutes also had a collaboration with the National Institute for Materials Science – the number one materials institute in Japan.

Sydney has been chosen as the location for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The value of Australia’s resources and energy exports in 2011 increased by 15 per cent from the previous year to a record $190 billion, according to the Resources and Energy Statistics December quarter 2011 report released today by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE).

The Western Australian Government has given final approval for a rail and power supply project in the Pilbara estimated to be worth more than $400 million, and which is expected to generate 600 jobs in the region.

The Australian Green Infrastructure Council has launched the nation’s first national scheme for rating infrastructure sustainability. The rating system has been developed co-operatively with many of the AGIC’s membership organisations.

The Coalition has announced it  will introduce a Private Member’s Bill into Parliament in the next sitting fortnight that will require the Gillard Government to commit to the remaining funding allocated for the Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme ($64.5 million in 2011-12).

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has issued a directions paper on rule change requests from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and a group of large energy users (EURCC).

Research at RMIT University has demonstrated the feasibility of capturing some of the vast energy reserves in the upper atmospheric winds, a significant advance for wind power technology.

University of Wollongong scientists are behind the establishment of a global consortium which is using sunlight to convert water into important chemical fuels such as hydrogen gas.

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