Innovative alloys mean sugarcane and mining equipment will last longer and be more energy efficient

Sugarcane and mining equipment are rapidly damaged by wear and corrosion with parts needing to be continually replaced – leading to waste and inefficiency. The manufacturing of these parts also consumes large amounts of energy and generates greenhouse gases.  

Dr Yahia Ali is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Queensland (UQ) and is a recent recipient of Advance Queensland’s Industry Research Fellowship.  

Over the next three years, Dr Ali will research and develop new, innovative metal-based materials (alloys) for sugarcane and mining equipment. The innovative materials are expected to last longer and use less energy to manufacture.  

Dr Ali received $360,000 to conduct this research as part of Advance Queensland’s Industry Research Fellowships.  

Why did you choose to research this? 

The detrimental effects of industrial activities on the environment are evident, from change of climate patterns to natural disasters. It has now become essential to prioritise sustainability to save our planet. Every initiative that reduces the industry’s consumption of energy and carbon footprint is a step in the right direction. Inspired by a cleaner and brighter future for Queensland, I am determined to direct my fundamental and professional knowledge to help implement sustainability in the agriculture and mining industries thorough new sustainable alloy development in this research. 

Who are you partnering with and why? 

My industry partner is Bradken as they have an extensive presence in Queensland as a manufacturer and supplier of wear-resistant products, notably for sugarcane, mining and minerals processing equipment. They are also proactively working towards reducing their carbon emissions and being carbon neutral by 2030.  

Bradken also support research and work collaboratively with research institutes such as UQ, to develop cutting-edge scientific knowledge. So, the university and I don’t need to “sell” the proposed research to Bradken, rather Bradken and UQ will act as equally motivated partners in this venture. 

How will the funding from Advance Queensland support you on your research journey? 

This funding will provide the backbone for my research group for the next three years. Not only will it directly cover most of my salary and a substantial proportion of my research group members’ salaries, it will also cover the expenses needed to undertake the research. This includes consumables, laboratory fees and materials testing and characterisation techniques. Without this funding, the success of my research and research group might not have been possible.  

What are you wanting to achieve in your research? 

I want to achieve the best possible outcomes for Queensland, Australia and the world. In the longer term, I would like this research to be the seed of larger and more far-reaching projects to provide sustainable materials solutions for Queensland industries. 

How will your research benefit and assist Queenslanders? 

The results of this research are expected to benefit Queenslanders in lots of ways. It’ll improve the environmental sustainability of Queensland’s sugarcane and mining industries and improve productivity and reduce costs for these industries, which benefits Queensland’s economy. It also strengthens linkages between Queensland’s research institutions and industry.  

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the 2022 Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program?  

It is an honour to be a recipient of the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships. Although I was not born in Queensland, it has been my home for the last ten years. From the day I landed in Australia, Queensland has welcomed me with open arms and provided all the tools I needed to succeed. UQ funded my PhD and I was then sponsored by Queensland for my permanent residency. My professional career started and is continuing in Queensland. Most importantly, my children were born in Queensland. And now my research is being supported and funded by Queensland. For me, I feel very proud to be a Queenslander and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to use my research towards a brighter and cleaner future for Queenslanders.  

Last updated 06 Apr, 2023
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