Small fibres bring big opportunities

29 August 2013

A 'Skilling the Bay' $500,000 grant will help Geelong tap into the rapidly growing nanofibre market.

A $500,000 grant for Deakin University, local biotechnology company Cytomatrix and Geelong based manufacturer Austeng will help Geelong tap into the rapidly growing nanofibre market. State Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Peter Hall launched the Skilling the Bay Geelong Future Industry Project at the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) on Friday 30 August 2013.

Cytomatrix CEO Assoc Professor Mark Kirkland said the new funding  will be used to construct a pilot-scale nanofibre facility for producing high-yield, low cost nanofibres for filtration and other applications.

The project is based on the development and commercialisation of a novel, innovative and world leading technology developed at IFM for manufacture of ‘short nanofibres’.

A/Prof Kirkland said the project would result in transfer of Deakin IP to local industry; creation of a growing industry with significant business and employment opportunities; and numerous opportunities for TAFE and university students to participate and develop skills in nanotechnology research and manufacture.

He said the project will ensure that stakeholders can leverage from very successful existing Deakin/industry relationships into a $300 million rapidly growing global nanofibre market.

“The creation of a pilot-scale nanofibre manufacturing plant, to be built by local engineering firm Austeng, has the ultimate aim of creating a new, significant and sustainable nano-manufacturing capability in the Geelong region, and to build new skills to support the emerging and growing industry,” said A/Prof Kirkland.

The key product for this project will be the manufacture of nanofibre-functionalised filters. The new method has advantages of lower costs of production, greater flexibility and improved properties over the methods currently used to produce these high-end filters.

A/Prof Kirkland said this was just the first of many applications he believes will ultimately arise from the project.

IFM Director, Prof Peter Hodgson said the new pilot facility establishes a technology platform for IFM with a plant that reliably produces a broad range of different short nanofibres, which will be suitable for a range of uses in industry, research and medical applications.

“Short nanofibres have exciting properties that lend the technology to a wide range of high-tech applications. Some of these are already being investigated by researchers at IFM,” said Prof Hodgson.

“IFM and the School of Engineering at Deakin will be actively engaged in the project in the production, modelling, testing and analysis of fibres and the manufacture of nanofibre-functionalised filters,” he said.

Cytomatrix’s research and development program involves a partnership with Deakin University, the Advanced Manufacturing CRC and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM).

The Skilling the Bay Geelong Future Industry Project was initiated by The Gordon in partnership with the State Government, Deakin University and the City of Greater Geelong.

The prototype short nanofibre machine built by Austeng for Deakin University Dr Sutti and Dr Parhizkar with the prototype short nanofibre machine built by Austeng for Deakin University.

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