UQ's Vice Chancellor Paul Greenfield AO with Chemeca Medal winner Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu
UQ's Vice Chancellor Paul Greenfield AO with Chemeca Medal winner Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu
28 September 2011

University of Queensland academics and a student have together scooped one third of the 2011 Awards of Excellence in Chemical Engineering including the prestigious Chemeca Medal.

UQ researchers won four of the 11 awards presented at the Australasian Conference on Chemical Engineering, or Chemeca in late September this year, including the Chemeca Medal to UQ's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu.

Other awards to UQ staff were the Caltex Teaching Award to Professor Ian Cameron; the Freehills Award to Professor John Zhu; and the Graeme Jameson Award for the best particle technology student, as decided by the Particle Technology Society, to PhD student Ms Li Wang, with all three recipients hailing from the School of Chemical Engineering.

The Chemeca Medal is the most prestigious award in the chemical engineering profession in Australia and New Zealand and is awarded to a prominent Australian or New Zealand chemical engineer who has made an outstanding contribution, through achievement or service, to the practice of chemical engineering in its widest sense and who continues to serve the profession. The recipient of the award is invited to present a plenary lecture at the annual Chemeca conference, which Professor Lu gave to an audience of more than 400 delegates on Tuesday last week.

The Caltex Teaching Award (Professor Ian Cameron) carries with it a $5000 prize and certificate and recognises outstanding achievements in the teaching of chemical engineers.

Professor Cameron is recognised internationally as an inspirational and dedicated teacher and researcher at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate education.

He has previously won the Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year in 2003, and also was part of the team which won a 2005 Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) for an innovative Project Centred Curriculum (PCC).

The Freehills Award (Professor John Zhu) also carries $5000 and a certificate and recognises innovation in product design or development, or service delivery by a chemical engineer from Australia or New Zealand.

Professor Zhu is a leading researcher in the area of clean coal and gas working on a number of industry and Australian Research Council-funded projects ranging from greenhouse gas emission control, hydrogen production and storage.

His group has developed a novel technology for hydrogen production from natural gas without CO2 emission, but with carbon nanofibres and nanotubes as valuable by products. His direct carbon fuel cells technology has the potential to double the coal energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emission by more than 50 percent compared with a conventional coal-fired power plant.

Ms Li Wang, a PhD student under the supervision of Professors Zhu and Victor Rudolph won her prize for her work on nanotube-supported catalysts for removing CO impurity in H2 fuel.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said the awards reflected the depth of talent in chemical engineering, and were a promising sign for UQ’s role in improved sustainability.

"I warmly congratulate the UQ winners, whose work will contribute to the realisation of cleaner technologies in sectors with a massive impact on global resource use," he said.

The theme of this year's Chemeca was "Engineering a Better World" with the conference hosted by The Institution Of Chemical Engineers In Australia (IChemE), Engineers Australia (EA), The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and The Institution Of Chemical Engineers New Zealand (IChemE in NZ).

Collectively, these bodies represent more than 100,000 engineers and chemists working around the world.

Media: Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (07 3365 2802).