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What’s News at BCIA?

The first quarter 2012 has been, as always, a busy period at BCIA.

During February, BCIA added two new staff members. Dr David McManus has replaced David Haarburger as the Research Investment Manager and Ms Kirstyn Krausz has taken up the new position of Membership Support Manager.

David has more than 20 years of experience in industrial research and development and has played a lead role in the development and commercialisation of new bio processes and bio products.

Kirstyn has almost 10 years experience in the brown coal industry, working closely with the Chief Executive and Corporate Affairs department of Victoria’s largest power generator, Loy Yang Power.


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT


BCIA funding has so far contributed to 20 research projects, with 15 projects still under way; the majority of which are from our 2011 funding round. All the projects are collaborative and can involve universities, research institutes, local manufacturers and power companies, as well as overseas linkages. Most of the projects are still in their early stages but already several are showing early promise.

Dr Andrew Hoadley at Monash University is working with some innovative local companies to overcome one of the major problems of working with brown coal. Dr Hoadley’s team is working to better understand how Australian brown coal becomes susceptible to spontaneous combustion as it dries out and is also collaborating with local companies to develop ways to transform brown coal into compact granules that are stable to store and transport. If successful, this will transform brown coal into a much more efficient fuel source that creates lower CO2 emissions and will create valuable new export opportunities.

In another very promising project, Process Group, a local engineering company, is collaborating with CO2CRC to commercialise a novel CO2-capture technology developed by a US company, Westec Environmental Solutions (WES). The WES froth generator absorber should allow more efficient CO2 capture from brown coal-fired power stations at lower cost, helping to keep electricity prices low. More details on this project are on
page 8.

As a glimpse of an exciting new future, HRL Developments is collaborating with the Japanese company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), to develop plans to convert Victorian brown coal into hydrogen for export to Japan, with the waste CO2 being sequestered in Victoria’s storage reserves. Extensive design and modelling work has been done, with the

conclusion that the process looks to be technically feasible. While the initial short-term scoping project is near completion, both HRL and KHI intend to continue their collaboration to bring this concept closer to reality.

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT


BCIA’s Postgraduate Scholarship award program is part of our commitment to strategic investment in skills development to secure the scientific, engineering and trade expertise required for the development of new low-emissions brown coal technologies.
Following on from the successful appointment of five postgraduate research scholarships in 2011, BCIA has appointed another research scholarship awardee for 2012. Contract details are now being finalised and we look forward to an announcement soon.


NETWORKS AND STAKEHOLDER RELATIONS


In February this year, BCIA announced the Japan Coal Energy Centre (JCOAL) had strengthened its investment in a sustainable future for Australia’s world-class brown coal resource by becoming the first international member of BCIA.

The reciprocal membership arrangement between BCIA and JCOAL will enable linkages between Australian and Japanese researchers and industry and support opportunities for collaboration in low-emissions brown coal utilisation. JCOAL is a leading Asia-Pacific coal energy-related organisation investing in human resources and technology R&D to support the sustainable development, commercialisation, transfer and dissemination of coal technologies.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), was also recently accepted as a member of BCIA. CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.


COMMUNICATIONS


During this quarter, BCIA also instigated and participated in a range of briefings with government departments, international industry, energy and research provider representatives and various business and industry publications.

The Victorian Government’s announcement that they are considering new allocations of brown coal sparked considerable media coverage throughout Australia. BCIA CEO, Dr Phil Gurney, briefed a range of media outlets including the Australian Financial Review, ABC Radio and ABC TV, to explain the need for investment in coal low-emissions technology innovation.