School of Chemical Engineering

The TPRG aims for excellence in research and development, underpinned by strong industry linkages, driving innovation, commercialisation, and education in the new plastics economy.


AQIP – Environmentally responsive biocomposite fertilisers

Total funding: $929,149

Period: 17/8/17 – 17/9/2020

This project is funded by the Queensland government through the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program and Manildra group. Our collaborators are in the Advanced Water Management Centre, School of Agriculture and Food Science, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and James Cook University.

The project will manufacture novel materials, test their performance and characterise their relevant physico-chemical properties along three development streams:

  • Develop biodegradable biopolymer based materials that will alter the diffusion rate of fertilizer;
  • Develop alumina-silicate based materials that will bind fertilizer and alter its diffusion;
  • Develop polymer coatings that will alter the rate of water and fertilizer transport across the coating.

Download project brief for more details


Designing starches for increased productivity in mineral flotation

Total funding: $799182

Period: 9/12/16 – 8/12/19

This project is funded by the ARC and Shoalhaven Starches (a subsidiary of Manildra Group).

To this end, the project pursues characterisation, manufacturing and performance streams of research to:

  • Develop modified wheat starch depressants to selectively reject carbonaceous matter in the flotation of base-metal sulphide ores;
  • Develop modified wheat starch depressants to selectively reject talc in the flotation of talceous ores;
  • Develop modified wheat starch flocculants to selectively reject clay minerals in the flotation of clayey ores.

Download project brief for more details


Improving beef production through management of plant toxins

Total funding:  $1.5 million from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)

Period: Jan/2018 – April/2021

This project seeks to capitalise on the variable response that is observed in cattle with ingestion of plant toxins by isolating microbes capable of degrading toxins (for use as preventative probiotics), and investigating toxin absorbents and/or biopolymers to foster toxin-degrading microbe populations. The approach is to devise strategies to enable toxin breakdown in the rumen before absorption into the bloodstream. Initially this research will be applied to the Pimelea toxin, simplexin, which causes frequently fatal poisoning in cattle grazing inland pastures of Australia. Project aims to produce a rumen inoculum containing microbes able to detoxify the Pimelea toxin, secondly to investigate biopolymer for slow-release systems for the rumen that would have broad utility across a range of plant toxins. Thirdly, toxin sponges or absorbants such as clay which could act as absorbent as well as slow release component to deliver low toxins doses, will be explored.

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Tough bio-derived and biodegradable wood plastic composites

Total funding: $270,000

Period: 9/12/16 – 8/12/19

This project is funded by the ARC and Norske Skog Paper Mills (Australia) Limited through ARC Linkage Project.

This project pioneers the development of tough bio-based and biodegradable WPCs, directly addressing a key end-user demand. This project will lead to new products and markets for the globally challenged Australian forestry industry, satisfying the needs of new and diverse market of Australian manufacturing industries Australia’s competitive advantage in biomass-derived product.

Download project brief for more details

Get in touch

For more opportunities, please contact:

A/Prof Bronwyn Laycock