Clean tech lab launches at Flinders

Professor Colin Raston

A $1.1 million Clean Technology Laboratory dedicated to developing products and processes in a cleaner, greener way, will officially open at Flinders University today (Tuesday, November 19).

Launched by Minister for Science and Information Economy Grace Portolesi, the state-of-the-art research facility will explore sustainable methods of manufacturing compounds and materials with applications across a range of sectors, including the pharmaceutical, agriculture, food processing, and renewable resources industries, using less energy and generating less waste.

Flinders University Professor Colin Raston, the South Australian Premier’s Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology, said the laboratory has received more than $1 million in project funding for the next two years from a number of providers including the Government of South Australia, the Australian Research Council and industry.

He said the laboratory would apply novel “continuous flow processing technology” being developed at Flinders to research more sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing methods.

“The technology used in the laboratory is based on the now-patented vortex fluid device, which has the ability to control chemical reactions in a way that’s not possible using the classic round bottom flask, as well as controlling the structure of compounds with minimal use of chemicals and energy,” Professor Raston said.

“The device represents a new paradigm in green chemistry, with continuous flow processing technologies leading to potential applications in a range of areas in health, the environment and energy, and in food processing,” he said.

“Through the laboratory, this research will set a new benchmark for processing, and has the potential to gain international attention in tackling major problems facing humanity.”

Minister for Science Grace Portolesi said the government was proud to support world-class research in South Australia.

“The appointment of Professor Raston as a Research Fellow is a coup for South Australia’s research community,” she said.

“His leading work in clean technology will not only enhance our research profile but also hopefully create economic opportunities in this important sector.

“It is critical we continue to support world-leading research and encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Various local and international collaborations will also occur through the laboratory, including PhD exchange programs and major multidisciplinary projects involving researchers at Cambridge University, the University of California-Irvine, Ben Gory University in Israel, the University of Malaysia, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, CNRS University of Quebec and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Professor Raston said the laboratory would also engage with industry to facilitate the transition of research to the marketplace.

“The new laboratory will provide a platform for engaging industry in state-of-the-art facilities, with discussions moving forward with industry in South Australia,” he said.

“Coupled with various international collaborations and student exchanges, the vibrant research environment created in the lab will translate to world-class research, excellent research training and opportunities for employment in South Australia.”

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