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Curtin’s aluminium research proves its mettle

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At a time when research budgets are being slashed due to the global economic downturn research into the future use of aluminium has secured Curtin University of Technology a share in a US$2 million grant from Russian aluminium giant Rusal.

A partner in Queensland alumina refinery QAL, Rusal invited submissions from around the world for ideas into developing new applications for the light metal.

Curtin secured the grant ahead of stiff competition from 100 universities and research centres with its application to use aluminium for hydrogen storage.

Head of Curtin’s Hydrogen Storage Research Group in the University’s Department of Imaging and Applied Physics, Professor Craig Buckley said the aim of the research was to expand the use of aluminium which could see hydrogen stored in aluminium as the future ‘petrol tank’.

“Effectively storing hydrogen in light metals such as aluminium will pave the way for hydrogen fuel cell cars and reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Professor Buckley said.

“Fuel cell cars are up to 40 per cent more efficient than current vehicles and this research will have a direct effect on our movement towards an increased use of hydrogen.”

Research Fellows, Ph.D. and undergraduate students will be involved in developing the ground-breaking technology over the next three years.

Curtin’s winning tender was one of three research projects to receive the first of the grants with Rusal’s contribution set at US$180,000.

Rusal expects to fund up to 10 research projects in coming years with a view to having the new applications for the metal coming to market in three to seven years.

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