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Curtin researcher awarded Commercialisation Australia Grant

Media release

Curtin University bio-energy researcher, Professor Chun-Zhu Li, has been awarded a $50,000 Commercialisation Australia Skills and Knowledge Grant to develop a business model for Curtin’s state-of-the-art low-rank fuel gasification technology.

The 2010 Curtin Commercial Innovation Award winner and Director of Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute (FETI), Professor Li, has led a team of researchers to develop the technology which converts biomass and/or brown coal into clean combustible gaseous fuels that can be used to generate base-load electricity, with funding from the Australian Government as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

Professor Li said the innovative gasification technology could efficiently deliver green base-load power, helping energy generators to meet renewable energy targets, especially in distributed power generation.  

“A pilot-scale gasifier, processing at a rate of 4 kilograms per hour, has been operating and demonstrating the technology successfully at FETI. We are now working toward the construction of a larger demonstration plant at Curtin with a fuel feedstock throughput of 100 kilograms per hour,” Professor Li said.

“A critical part of this Skills and Knowledge Grant expenditure will be used to find a commercial partner, such as a feedstock provider, power generator or distribution company to help develop and commercialise the technology.”

Curtin Director of IP Commercialisation, Rohan McDougall, said the grant would also support the building of a strong business case around the technology, comprising a product development plan, market analysis, intellectual property strategy, costing and pricing modelling and sales forecasts in order to help secure commercialisation partners.

“We are excited by this opportunity as the grant from Commercialisation Australia provides us with the funding necessary to package this innovative technology into a structure attractive to investors and collaborators,” Mr McDougall said.

Professor Li said his research was aimed at developing innovative, sustainable and economically viable solutions to the long-term need for renewable energy within Australia and beyond.

“This technology is cheaper than many other similar processes developed elsewhere in the world as gasification is carried out at relatively low temperature and at atmospheric pressure and does not need expensive high pressure vessels,” he said.

Professor Li said Western Australia could potentially produce 10 million tonnes of dry mallee biomass annually, which could equal one gigawatt electricity capacity.

The Commercialisation Australia Skills and Knowledge Grant was secured with the help of Curtin IP Commercialisation specialists Rohan McDougall and Kelly Clarke.


Professor Chun-Zhu Li, Director, Fuels and Energy Technology Institute, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 1133, Email:

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Email: