Transformations advancing current energy systems
UQ recognises that developing technologies to improve how we produce, store and distribute conventional energy sources is key to maintaining future energy supply and supporting Australia’s key industries.
Coal Seam Gas (CSG) is a new resource for large scale production of LNG for export markets. The Queensland CSG development will be the first in the world at a scale that competes with petroleum gas. Continuous improvement of the industry with increased efficiencies of extraction will require a significantly better understanding of Queensland coal seam reservoirs and the development of improved technologies for extraction of gas from those reservoirs.
Unique issues associated with CSG require special knowledge and human capabilities. These include the development of a better understanding of the reservoir, reservoir engineering and geophysics, together with improved technologies for handling, treatment and utilisation of large quantities of saline water generated during the extraction of gas. The industry also needs to develop capabilities to deal with community concerns over the industry’s environmental and social impacts.
UQ has diverse and substantial capabilities to assist the exploitation of Coal Seam Gas (CSG). UQ’s researchers have expertise across the value chain from resource discovery and characterisation through to environmental issues and sustainable water management to gas production and innovative gas products.
UQ recognises that strong links with industry will help progress its research priorities and ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience required to meet industry needs and to provide leadership in the future.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), alternatively referred to as carbon capture and sequestration, is a means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming, based on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point surfaces such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere.
Carbon capture and storage is globally recognised as an essential technology for meeting low emission coal targets. Australia led the creation of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which has a mandate to facilitate development of 20 integrated, industrial-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects worldwide by 2020. The Australian Government is hosting the Institute and is providing A$100 million annually to fund the effort.
At UQ, carbon capture technologies and research include;
• Advanced zero emission power systems
• CO2 sorbents for high temperature applications
• CO2 sorbents for low temperature applications
• Calcium looping technology
The University of Queensland has established a Centre for Coal Energy Technology to coordinate and strengthen low emission coal research at the University. The Centre will link to the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials (ARCCFN) and the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).
UQ has the largest university research program the Western World aimed at the needs of the minerals resource industry. A prime focus is the reduction of energy consumption in mining and minerals processing and reduction of the industry’s carbon footprint.
Mineral processing research is conducted within the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC). The JKMRC is a world-renowned leader in mineral processing science and technology and over a period of 45 years has delivered innovative solutions to the Minerals Industry across a range of commodities.
JKMRC research has an emphasis on the modelling and simulation of beneficiation methods. A relatively new area is concerned with geometallurgy, which investigates the association between the geological properties of ores and subsequent processing.
Power engineering, or power systems engineering, can include the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of power systems. Power systems are generally large, non-linear, interconnected and complex and there is a significant need for improvement in the planning and operation of such systems to avoid catastrophic blackouts. Research into the infrastructure that generates, transmits/transports and distributes electricity is therefore another important area of discovery at UQ.
The UQ Power and Energy Systems Research group has activities revolving around power system security and condition assessment of critical infrastructure, specifically directed at the analysis and prediction of the dynamic behaviour of power systems for reliable and secure operation. A significant proportion of the electricity infrastructure in Australia and other countries is aged and requires attention.
The UQ team therefore has a strong focus on industry-oriented research that can deliver next generation condition assessment techniques that comprise accurate modelling and interpretative tools for power transformers, underground cables and other plant assets. Voltage and transient stability analysis, fault analysis tools and power systems control methodologies are important areas of research. Researchers are also involved with generation and transmission planning issues in a deregulated electricity market environment and are actively working on a number of challenging problems relevant to renewable energy and distributed generation integration to the main national grid.