Dr Gloria Milena Monsalve Bravo is a Research Fellow at The University of Queensland and a recipient of Advance Queensland’s Industry Research Fellowships.
With the support of the $240,000 fellowship grant, Dr Monsalve Bravo is researching and developing tailor-made nanocomposite membranes to catch greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
This revolutionary technology will be used to separate and capture GHGs from power plants, helping Queensland's energy sector to cost-effectively reduce their emissions, enabling the state to reach the net zero emission goal by 2050.
What is your research about?
I’m developing an alternative approach to recover greenhouse gasses (GHGs) using tailor-made nanocomposite membranes. To achieve this, I’m building a powerful multiscale modelling approach and designing polymer-adsorbent nanocomposites to recover GHGs from electricity generation processes. This innovative technique will advance the evaluation of suitable membrane materials for environmental applications and will considerably reduce the experimental effort required to adopt this technology in Queensland’s energy industries.
Why did you choose to research this?
I have chosen this research because it will immensely contribute to mitigating climate change by providing an alternative solution to recover GHGs from existing power generation processes. Currently, electricity generation is achieved by burning fossil fuels, which produce large amounts GHGs, including carbon dioxide – the largest contributor to global warming. So decarbonising the energy sector has the greatest potential for reducing GHG emissions, and developing new technologies will significantly reduce the energy sector’s carbon footprint.
Who are you partnering with and why?
I am partnering with Zeotech Limited, a growing Queensland-based zeolite (a common material used as commercial adsorbents) manufacturer, with a proven commitment to develop Australia’s nanotechnologies and nanomaterials. While Zeotech is currently capable of producing nanoporous materials (for example, zeolites), their infrastructure is not utilised for membrane manufacturing.
By focusing on this critical company’s need, the proposed project will deliver a robust method to design and manufacture highly efficient zeolite-based nanocomposite membranes. As a result, this key technological advancement will accelerate the often-extensive validation/testing phase required for the commercialisation of the technology, which will help the company devote their efforts to building a membrane manufacturing facility for a readily tested technology.
How will the funding from Advance Queensland support you on your research journey?
It will support the investigation of suitable nanocomposite structures via molecular simulations and develop strategies to enhance the compatibility of membrane materials. It will then support exploring different nanocomposite membranes that separate GHGs from flue gas and enhance the effectiveness of membrane separation. The funding will also support the manufacturing of a laboratory-scale nanocomposite membrane.
How will your research benefit and assist Queenslanders?
My researched will benefit Queensland’s energy industry by proving a cost-effective alternative to energy-intensive gas separation processes. This is critical to reduce electricity generation costs and it will significantly reduce the energy sector’s carbon footprint.
The research will also benefit the industry partner, Zeotech, as they will have access to a new market for their advanced nanomaterials and have a clear end user – Queensland’s energy industry.
The adoption of this new technology will generate employment opportunities for Queenslanders and also mitigate climate change.
What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the 2022 Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program?
Being awarded one of the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships is a wonderful honour that will allow me to translate my research into tangible benefits to an industry and Queensland. By supporting my research, this fellowship will help me transition from an emerging leader in my field to becoming a well-established researcher with well-developed abilities to collaborate with industry partners and end-users to generate quantifiable benefits outside academia.