Curtin scientists fuel innovation

Dehua Dong, Gordon Parkinson, Chun-Zhu Li and Xin Shao at Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d411544
Dehua Dong, Gordon Parkinson, Chun-Zhu Li and Xin Shao at Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d411544

The team of Gordon Parkinson, Dehua Dong, Xin Shao and Chun-Zhu Li, from Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute (FETI), received the award for developing a membrane that can produce pure oxygen from air.

Professor Parkinson, of Willetton, said industries such as steel works, hospitals and aged care used millions of tonnes of oxygen each year.

‘It doesn’t have tiny holes, it is completely solid,’ Prof Parkinson said. ‘We were able to make oxygen ions move through the material and nothing else.’

He said the discovery came about when a student working on a different project suggested the use of steel opposed to cloth and filter paper.

‘A lot of people have been trying to commercialise bulk oxygen generation but problems often arise,’ he said.

‘If the membrane is too thick, it slows the process down, and if it is too thin, the membrane would be fragile.’

Prof Parkinson said the membrane could extract oxygen from other sources such as water and carbon dioxide.

Since receiving the award, Prof Parkinson said the team had talked to potential partners and considered commercialising the membrane themselves.

He expects the material to be commercialised in the next two to three years.

The team won also won Curtin’s Commercial Innovation Award this year for their project.