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NEWS


SPOTLIGHT ON BCIA
What’s News at BCIA?

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT UPDATE



Each year, the Royal Society of Victoria (RSV) awards four prestigious competitive prizes to post-graduate doctoral students in the areas of Biomedical & Health Sciences, Biological Sciences (Non-human), Earth Sciences and Physical Sciences.

This year Monash University PhD student and BCIA researcher, Mr Sharmen Rajendran, was runner up in the Physical Sciences category, for his presentation ‘Chemical looping combustion of Victorian brown coal with inherent CO2 capture and H2 generation’.

Mr Rajendran is in the final stages of his PhD and is working with Professor Sankar Bhattacharya as part of BCIA’s ‘Chemical Looping Combustion’ research project. Mr Rajendran received a certificate and a cash prize of $250, plus free membership of the RSV for a period of two years and the opportunity to participate in the Society’s mentoring program.


Above: Sharmen Rajendran (centre) with other winners of RSV awards. Source: Royal Society Victoria

The RSV awards are open to PhD candidates at Victorian universities who are completing the third or fourth year of their doctoral candidature. The next round of applications will open on 1 June 2015. Further details can be found at Royal Society Victoria.

In October, the Australian Institute of Energy (AIE) held the 2014 National Postgraduate Student Energy Awards, in conjunction with the All-Energy Exhibition & Conference in Melbourne.

The AIE Postgraduate Awards provide an opportunity for postgraduate research students to interact with the energy community, and to inform AIE members and the public about the current energy research. BCIA was a sponsor of the AIE Postgraduate Awards, and provided the awards in the Carbon Reduction category.

Mr Adam Rady, a BCIA PhD Scholarship holder from Monash University won first prize in the 'Carbon Reduction' category for his poster ‘Evaluation of Victorian brown coal as a fuel for Direct Carbon Fuel Cells’; see
page 6 to read more.
Ms Karen Little recently submitted her PhD thesis and has expressed interest in continuing research on humates in soils. As the year draws to a close, many of the PhD students working on BCIA projects are also working hard to finalise and submit their theses.

We recently learned that some former PhD students who worked on BCIA research projects have since taken up postdoctoral positions overseas:
  • Mr Chiranjib Saha – the first PhD student to work on the BCIA-funded chemical looping project – initially went to CANMET Energy in Canada, and is now working with Southern Company and the Mesaba IGCC project in Minnesota.
  • Mr Bayzid Kabir has submitted his thesis on gasification and DME synthesis and is now engaged as an Assistant Professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
  • Mr Lachlan Ciddor is now working as a research fellow at Aston University, Birmingham, UK and putting the finishing touches to his PhD thesis on lignite-based CO2 adsorbents.

Postdoctoral work overseas is widely regarded as a very beneficial career move for PhD graduates. It provides them with an opportunity to work with leaders in their field and helps them establish a global network of collaborators.

It also gives graduates access to ideas and experiences that they couldn’t get by staying in one place and their creative skills are enhanced by overcoming the challenge of living in a new society. International experience is encouraged for PhD graduates because it will ultimately enrich their future careers.

BCIA wishes our PhD students every success in finalising their research work, completing their dissertations and undertaking the next phase of their professional careers.


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT


Agricultural uses of brown coal
Victorian brown coal deposits are about 30 million years old, and comprise the decomposed remains of ancient plants and trees. The readily degraded polymers, cellulose and hemicellulose, have been consumed by soil microbes, leaving only lignin residues. When reacted with alkali, the lignin material breaks down further to form humates, which can be used in agriculture to build soil structure and promote plant growth.

Associate Professor Tony Patti is currently leading a team of researchers in a project based at Monash University to investigate the agricultural applications of humates and fertilisers containing Victorian brown coal. This has involved an extensive review of the published literature, as well as a series of greenhouse studies and field trials with a range of different crop plants in a bid to understand the mechanisms involved.



For more BCIA news, go to the next page of this e-newsletter.




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