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seed projects
Migrating to renewable energy sources is a complex global challenge that require the best thinking and a collective approach to deliver solutions in what is a research problem with no determinable conclusion.

The UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute brings together leading researchers in engineering, social sciences, public health, law, policy and design to tackle the complex matter of migrating to a digital energy grid. Our research is interdisciplinary in nature, which brings together researchers from across all UNSW Faculties, and collaborations with industry, community, philanthropy and government. The Institute draws together experts from across all UNSW Faculties including Art & Design, Arts & Social Sciences, Built Environment, Business, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Science.

UNSW Digital Grid Futures Seed Funded Projects

2020 (Live) Projects

Lead Investigator: A/Prof Donna Green

Investigator Team
Donna Green - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)/School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)
Ben Harris- Roxas - Faculty of Medicine
Xiaoqi Feng - School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Nathan Cooper - School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)

This pilot project will identify whether there is indeed a significant problem in relation to the health of Sydney’s children from internal combustion engines that has not been fully appreciated (or costed). There could be significant health and economic benefit as an outcome through the quantification of the externality of this currently hidden health cost. Future generations would benefit if we identified that there was a significant additional exposure to air pollution from internal combustion engines. This is because children have a significant amount of future life-years, so any air pollution that affects them would have a large health and economic cost to themselves and the economy respectively.
Lead Investigator: Prof Travis Waller

Investigator Team
Travis Waller - Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)
David Rey - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Wei Liu - School of Computer Science and Engineering
Ahmed WA Hammad - School of Architecture and Design
Xiang Zhang - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

This project will explore how to evaluate and improve the future of electric autonomous transportation systems with digital grids through advanced technology. It will propose a systematic framework to improve the sustainable autonomous & electric transportation system, in consideration of energy resource, mobility, automation, culture, environment and social economy. Unlike existing solutions associated with planning and management techniques to cope only with internal combustion engine vehicle; this study will provides the solutions which target for the future electrified autonomous transportation with digital grid, shared traffic system and mobility as a service system.
Lead Investigator: Scientia Prof Rose Amal

Investigator Team
Rose Amal - School of Chemical Engineering
Iain MacGill - Centre for Energy & Environmental Markets
Judy Hart - School of Material Science
Rahman Daiyan - School of Chemical Engineering
Nawshad Haque - CSIRO

This project will use an integrated Photo-Voltaic Electrolysis (PV) heat exchange technology and active and cost-effective catalyst materials to convert sunlight and waste CO2 to synthetic fuel. Successful implementation of the project would lead to the development of renewable-powered synthetic fuel electrolyzer prototypes for Australian industry. The outcome of the research will benefit Australians at large (through reducing carbon emissions), assist government (enabling Australia to meet its commitment under Paris Agreement), local industries (enable the creation of new chemical industries for these products) and electricity market (allow higher penetration of renewables and alleviate intermittency in the electricity grid from renewable energy).
Lead Investigator: Dr. Guo Chen

Investigator Team
Guo Chen - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Chaojie Li - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Guoyin Li - School of Mathematics and Statistics

This project aims to reduce uncertainty of renewable energy sources, and improve the accuracy of renewable energy forecasting in a short term from 5-minute ahead and up to 24-hour ahead. This seeks to act in real-time rather than current methods which use historical data. We will investigate how to reduce the negative impact of uncertainty and how to harness new technologies to efficiently manage an energy storage for accommodating distributed energy sources (DERs)
Lead Investigator: Prof Jeremy Moss

Investigator Team
Jeremy Moss - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Ben Newell - School of Psychology

This project aims to provide a framework to understand the distribution of benefits and burdens this project will provide a major benefit to the social benefits of an energy transition. The legacy of this project will be to initiate, develop and implement just solutions to climate change. The project will engage leaders in Australia and the region to make UNSW a leading voice on climate justice.
Lead Investigator: Prof Travis Waller

Investigator Team
Travis Waller - Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)
Taha H. Rashidi - Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)
Ali Ardeshiri - School of Civil Engineering
Brian Lee - School of Architecture

Automation may affect road vehicle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, positive and negative, by causing changes in travel demand, vehicle design, vehicle operating profiles, and choices of fuels. Autonomous vehicles and the possibility of multi-tasking while traveling is expected to influence residents’ willingness to travel longer distance which will lead to further impacts on the urban form and resident’s travel pattern, lifestyle and quality of life. This project explores how automation may affect travel and energy use, by how much, and to identify opportunities to support and guide an environmentally beneficial transition toward vehicle automation
Lead Investigator: Prof Tommy Wiedmann

Investigator Team
Tommy Weidmann - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Man Yu - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Jiajia Yang - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Philip Oldfield - School of Architecture and Design
Cameron Allen - School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)
Soo Huey Teh - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

This research aims to provide a comprehensive and quantitative assessment of renewable transition in the Australian built environment across scales taking environmental, economic and social dimensions into account. At the individual building scale, a hybrid life cycle assessment (HLCA) will be conducted in combination with the triple bottom-line assessment to investigate and optimise a series of renewable transition scenarios. Traditional life cycle assessment (LCA) suffers from serious truncation errors and inconsistent system boundaries so that the results are neither accurate nor comparable. This project is proposed to employ a novel HLCA model integrating traditional LCA with multi-regional input-output analysis through a collaborative cloud-computing research platform Industrial Ecology Virtual Laboratory to enable the most accurate, comprehensive and flexible LCA.
Lead Investigator: A/Prof Yan Xu

Investigator Team
Yan Xu - School of Taxation and Business Law
Donna Green - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)/School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)

The project considers how the current road transport fuel tax can be better designed to become an efficient and effective instrument to reduce carbon emissions of road transport and to promote the transition to carbon-neutral transport. The current system in Australia has had a limited impact on emissions reduction and reform is clearly needed. The current fuel tax regime has failed to achieve the required shift from carbon-based fuel to alternative transport energy sources. This reflects in part its design as a tax law rather than a combined tax and environmental law. A better design that can lead to the reduction of CO2 emissions and promote the adaptation required to combat climate change can be achieved through collaboration between researchers from disciplines of tax law and policy, environmental sciences, and environmental economics.
Lead Investigator: A/Prof Guozhen Liu

Investigator Team
Guozhen Liu - School of Biomedical Engineering
Margaret Morris - School of Medical Sciences
Xuan Liu - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Ripon Bhattacharjee - School of Biomedical Engineering

There are currently 1 million Australians with diabetes (costing the country $6.5B p.a), a further 2 million with prediabetes, and the disease is the fastest growing chronic condition in the country. Today 1 in 2 adults in both US and China have either diabetes or prediabetes. Prediabetes is a precursor to diabetes and there is widespread consensus that identifying and treating those with prediabetes is critical. The project will deliver the capacity to easily detect early onset changes in the bodies response to a meal, to drive healthy lifestyle behaviours. A wireless wearable sensing device will be developed capable of detecting post meal insulin levels as the key biomarker to optimise the diet of an individual, where insulin level will be reported with wireless technology to a smartphone
Lead Investigator: Prof Joe Dong

Investigator Team
Joe Dong - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Jeremy Moss - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Derrick Ng Kwan - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications

Built on the track record of smart city, smart grid research and technological development, this project will form a sustainable development, human centred future community planning framework with selected key components, such as campus, home and communities with multi-disciplinary yet integrated approach for the best economical, sustainable and service focused planning framework with packs of technologies to serve different/specific user needs
Lead Investigator: Dr Declan Kuch

Investigator Team
Declan Kuch - School of Humanities and Languages
Amelia Thorpe - Faculty of Law
Nofar Sheffi - Faculty of Law
Edgar Liu - City Futures Research Centre/Faculty of Built Environment
Scott Ferraro - Monash University
Marianne Ryghaug - NTNU (Norway Institute of Technology)
Zofia Lukszo - Delft Unversity
Mariana Valverde - University of Toronto
Alexandra Flynn - University of British Columbia

This project will examine the risks and opportunities in urban regulations around electric vehicle charging. The project aims to articulate strategies to increase EV uptake and work with the grain of low-carbon urban transformation and electricity system planning.
Lead Investigator: A/Prof Da-Wei Wang

Investigator Team
Da-Wei Wang - School of Chemical Engineering
Ke Meng - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Jian Pan - School of Chemical Engineering
Aditya Rawal - UNSW Division of Research

This project will find a solution for sustainable negative-emission utilization of waste biomass, with a purpose to replace the current non-carbon-neutral processing of biomass, such as pyrolysis, gasification, etc. By value-added carbon-neutral conversion of the biomass that is the key carbon-capture segment in the Carbon Cycle, we are able to establish the negative-emission technology.
Lead Investigator: Dr Paul Munro

Investigator Team
Paul Munro - School of Humanities and Languages
Veena Sahajwalla - Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology,(SMaRT)
Matthew Kearnes - School of Humanities and Languages
Sarah Walker - School of Economics
Jones Cecil Ntaukira - Zuwa energy, Malawi
Brave Mhonie - SunnyMoney / SolarAid, Malawi
Collen Zalengera - Mzuzu University, Malawi
Padmasai Lakshmi Bhamidipati - Denmark Technical University, United Nations Environment Programme (DTU-UNEP) partnership
Ulrich Elmer Hansen - Denmark Technical University, United Nations Environment Programme (DTU-UNEP) partnership

This project aims to investigate the phenomenon of solar waste in East Africa by utilising Kenya and Malawi as case study countries. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the area of solar waste using interdisciplinary approaches to critically map out the issue in detail and evaluate possible solutions. Little research has been conducted on the issue to date. Expected outcomes of this project include a detailed understanding of the solar waste problem, and examine the potential of repairable design approaches and micro recycling factories as potential means to address the issue. This should provide significant benefits to people in East Africa, as it will help to eradicate a growing hazardous issue as well as developing enterprises for employment
Lead Investigator: Prof Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou

Investigator Team
Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou - School of Chemical Engineering
Dipan Kundu - School of Chemical Engineering
Neeraj Sharma - School of Chemistry
Dewei Chu - School of Materials Science & Engineering
Claudio Cazorla - School of Materials Science & Engineering

The future energy generation mix would largely comprise of renewables which are intermittent in nature. This high penetration of renewables will contribute to energy reliability and security concerns. Energy storage is a technology that connects energy production and consumption and provides flexibility. Moreover, efficient energy storage is the key to our ambition of mass-scale electrification of transport. Therefore, the development of safe and affordable storage technologies, reliant on inexpensive and earth-abundant resources will be critical. Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are an attractive choice owing to their high energy density and market readiness but LIBs have limited availability and uneven distribution and high cost and potential safety issues. Thus, alternative technologies must be developed. This study will propose the manipulation of proton and hydride ion transport and storage in materials for the development of a new generation of batteries that are safe and affordable, in the form of aqueous batteries and solid-state hydride-ion batteries.
Lead Investigator: Dr Anna Bruce

Investigator Team
Declan Kuch - School of Humanities and Languages
Anna Bruce - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Iain MacGill - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Maria Balatbat - UNSW Business School

This project aims to enhance the quality and robustness of policy making in respect of clean energy transitions in Australia. This will be done by making Formal evidence-based policy submissions to reviews conducted by relevant agencies in 2020 (e.g. AEMC, AER, COAG, Relevant State Departments, Relevant Commonwealth Departments, State Regulators, Special Reviews). This research will also involve facilitation of policy events enabling informal engagement between researchers, stakeholders and policy makers.
Lead Investigator: Dr Weicong Kong

Investigator Team
Weicong Kong - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Ke Meng - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Abnil Prasad - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Merlinde Kay - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Weiwei Zhou - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Steven Sherwood - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)

This research aims to improve the confidence on forecasting short‐term solar generation outputs, especially meteorological events that lead to sudden large change of PV power output, as known as the solar ramp events. These events will require energy system to respond quickly to resume the balance between power supply and demand. Failure to foresee such events would pose a stability threat to the power grid. In this research, computer vision solutions based on deep learning will be developed to understand the types and movement of clouds that most impact PV. Subsequent models will be further developed to take such extracted information, as well as traditional weather and past generation measurement to complete short‐term forecasting of PV power output.
Lead Investigator: Dr Huiqiao (Fanfan) Tian

Investigator Team
Huiqiao (Fanfan) Tian - Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine
Ken Butcher - Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine
Joe Dong - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Xuan Liu - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications

This research will leverage the recent rise in artificial intelligence (AI) to develop new healthcare tools with improved user interface, trust, and experience. The proposed solution and methodology is to gather, store, share, and analyse vital biometric and preventative information needed for early diagnosis, remote monitoring, therapeutic treatment, patient rehabilitation, recovery, and wellbeing of Australians who have suffered a stroke in the past.
Lead Investigator: Prof Ilpo Koskinen

Investigator Team
Ilpo Koskinen - UNSW Design Next
Nicholas Gurieff - School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Donna Green - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)/School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)
Melissa Hart - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)/School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)
Mathew Lipson - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)

This research will strive to address the crisis of imagination in our public efforts to mitigate and adapt to anthropogenic climate change. The existing ‘solution’ is a strained power network conceptually stuck in the past, delivering adverse health impacts and constraints on economics development. Built environment concepts will be developed for integrated vanadium flow batteries and renewable hydrogen energy storage systems connected to gas and electricity networks. Case studies may include transit hubs, universities, health precincts and fitness centres. We will deliver engineering and science research with architectural and industrial design renderings.
Lead Investigator: A/Prof. Nicholas Ekins-Daukes

Investigator Team
Nicholas Ekins-Daukes ('Ned') - School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering / Faculty of Engineering
Ivan Perez-Wurfl - School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Jessica Yajie Jiang - School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Timothy Schmidt - School of Chemistry
Michael Liu - ShunDe Sun Yat Sen University Institute for Solar Energy, China
Bonna Newman - ECN-TNO, Netherlands
Angèle Reinders - University of Twente and TU/Eindhoven, Netherlands
Urs Muntwyler - Berner Fachhochschule BFH, Switzerland
Kianing Ding - Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany

During a 2019 seed funded project, this team developed an autonomous data logger that measures solar irradiance to crowdsource data from a large number of vehicles. This project seeks to expand the function of the datalogger to measure electrical demand and commercialise the technology, so it can be deployed beyond the confines of an academic research project. The first application of this datalogger will be to assess the electrical loads that can be offset using solar energy on public buses
Lead Investigator: Yang Li

Investigator Team
Yang Li - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Zi Ouyang - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Ke Meng - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Abhnil Prasad - Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)
Merlinde Key - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering
Hongzhao Li - UNSW Knowledge Exchange Office
Alison Lennon - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering

In this project, the cost evaluation will be conducted by understanding the relationship between causer pay factor and forecasting error. A web server will be designed and built based on the specifications from AEMO to provide 5 minute forecast through the API portals, based on solar system modelling expertise, the existing software and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for short-term weather forecast based on satellite images.
2019 (Closed) Projects

Lead Investigator: Professor Alison Lennon

Investigator Team
Alison Lennon - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE)
John Fletcher - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Neeraj Sharma - School of Chemistry
Da-Wei Wang - School of Chemical Engineering

This project aims to investigate the suitability of new high-rate anode materials for Li ion batteries (LIBs) specifically customised for fast frequency response (FFR) grid stabilisation services [1]. These services will be required to stabilise the grid frequency in the presence of high fractions of intermittent renewable generation. The durability of the new LIB technologies will be assessed by examining their performance using ‘cycling’ conditions that reflect battery usage from the 1st year of operation of the Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) [2].
Lead Investigator: A/Professor Da-Wei Wang

Investigator Team
Da-Wei Wang - School of Chemical Engineering
Ke Meng - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Richard Tilley - School of Chemistry

This project will explore an entirely renewable and zero-emission approach to reduce and reform biowaste to hydrogen, which is powered by wind electricity. This will will pave the way to more sustainable production of hydrogen. Hydrogen is commercially available from 1) fossil fuels (coal gasification, methane reforming, etc.), and 2) chloralkaline industry. None of these current technologies addressed the global waste reforming and uplifting concern. This project will thus become the future enabler for two streams of industry: (bio)waste reuse and hydrogen - killing 'two birds with one stone'.
Lead Investigator: Dr Derrick Wing Kwan Ng

Investigator Team
Derrick Ng Kwan - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications

The solutions of the project can be directly applied to IoT-enabled smart grid and deployed by logistics, wireless communication network operators, government sectors in Australia and overseas, thus, open new opportunities and business models to embrace the future digital grid. The traditional ways for extending the lifetime of energy-limited wireless communication devices, i.e., frequent battery replacement and wired charging, incur prohibitive costs in both human time and charging infrastructure (e.g. cables and chargers). The proposed WP-IoT provides an efficient and cost-effective solution to extend the lifetime of communication networks.
Lead Investigator: Dr Guo Chen

Investigator Team
Guo Chen - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Ahmed Musleh - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Shiping Chen - CSIRO

This project will aim to propose an efficient bad-data detection algorithm that shall be employed to enhance the security of smart grid
Lead Investigator: Dr Jiangtao Xu

Investigator Team
Jiangtao Xu - School of Chemical Engineering
Cyrille Boyer - School of Chemical Engineering
Da-Wei Wang- School of Chemical Engineering

This project will find the solution to produce new Solid-State EV batteries able to harmonize the needs for safety and energy density. Specifically, this project will focus on the solid-state lithium-sulfur battery. As a new battery chemistry, Li-S battery is the most viable high-energy-density battery, and stores 10 times more capacity than current lithium-ion battery.
Lead Investigator: Dr Ke Meng

Investigator Team
Ke Meng - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Rebecca Collie - School of Education
Peijia Zhang - he Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This project aims to combine school energy saving schemes with multimodal studies to facilitate teaching and learning environmental knowledge and to enable students to participate in green and smart campus design and management.
Lead Investigator: A/Professor Ned Ekins-Daukes

Investigator Team
Ned Ekins-Daukes - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE)
Martin Green - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE)
Iain Macgill - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Taha Rashidi - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The impact of our study will be to indicate the potential for photovoltaics integrated into passenger vehicles to reduce carbon emissions and electrical demand from the grid in Australia.
Lead Investigator: Dr Neeraj Sharma

Investigator Team
Neeraj Sharma - School of Chemistry
Rose Amal - School of Chemical Engineering
Jeffrey Cheung - Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)
Sean Lim - Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre

This study will explore the opportunity to transform harvesting and storage, and one could envision portable or larger-scale “all-in-one” devices that are continuously generating electricity and using additional electricity to charge “themselves.” When the device cannot generate electricity, it simple uses the stored energy within “itself.” This has the potential to be a single solution of generation and storage. The heart of this solution is an appropriate electrode.
Lead Investigator: Professor Rose Amal

Investigator Team
Rose Amal - School of Chemical Engineering
Iain Macgill - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Neeraj Sharma - School of Chemistry
Xiaojing Hao - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE)
Xunyu Lu - School of Chemical Engineering
Judy Hart - School of Materials Science and Engineering

The project entails the development of highly efficient, integrated Photovoltaic Electrolysis (PVE) system and using locally mined metal catalysts for the generation of H2.
Lead Investigator: Professor Travis Waller

Investigator Team
Travis Waller - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)
David Rey - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Wei Lu - School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Xiang Zhang, Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)

This project focuses on smart mobility service design with electric-and-autonomous vehicles (EAVs). In particular, this project aims to investigate how private car mode, ridesharing/sourcing, and public transport system with EAVs can be integrated with behavioural travel incentives to optimize network performance and user satisfaction.
Lead Investigator: Professor Joe Dong

Investigator Team
Joe Dong - School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
Lyria Bennett Moses - Faculty of Law
Kim Beswick - School of Education

This project forms a strategic direction of smart campus to promote learning with technical, educational, social and legal aspects. It is a complex integrated system with interdisciplinary nature