Rockingham research supporting WA’s batteries boom

Batteries hub

The Western Australian Government has backed world leading metals scientists at the Harry Butler Institute with funding for critical batteries research infrastructure.

Over $700,000 in grant funding, awarded to Murdoch University through the WA Government’s Investment Attraction Fund, will see a new batteries research hub established in Rockingham.

Associate Professor John Ruprecht, who leads the Centre for Water, Energy and Waste at Murdoch, believes the industry collaborations the facility will foster in the Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area present a big opportunity for WA’s nascent batteries industry.

“Our State produces more than half the world’s lithium, an essential component in rechargeable batteries, and has globally significant stores of vanadium, a metal central to long-duration batteries,” Dr Ruprecht explained.

Now is the time to focus our collective efforts to ensure the industry borne from these minerals sits right here in Western Australia – this is the opportunity our research is laying the platform for.

As the annual growth rate of global battery demand tips 34 per cent, Australia has the opportunity to build a $17 billion domestic battery industries, according to the Future Battery Industries CRC Final Report. This would support 61,400 jobs by 2030.

“There is much to be done and science and engineering have a large role to play in establishing a thriving battery industry in Western Australia that is fed by both metal mining and recycling the metal in old batteries,” Dr Ruprecht said.

Embedding an industry-relevant research laboratory in a developing industry precinct will allow the timely communication of industry problems and expediate the development of practical solutions. This will support WA’s economic agenda to move beyond being a commodities exporter to a technology powerhouse.

The Hydrometallurgy Research Group, under the guidance of leading metals scientist Professor Aleksandar Nikoloski, are experts in the hydrometallurgical processes used to extract and produce critical metals (lithium, nickel, cobalt, vanadium) from primary (ores) and secondary (recyclables such as e-waste) materials.

“It’s important for industry, government and research institutions to collaborate, share ideas and create facilities to help identify opportunities for improvement, develop new process solutions and learn the skills to implement these changes,” Dr Ruprecht said.

This funding to establish a dedicated facility in Rockingham is an important step towards strengthening those ties with a focus on the industrial and processing potential of Kwinana and Rockingham.

The State Government’s ongoing funding demonstrates a commitment to a future battery industry in Western Australia with an emphasis on research and technology development across the battery value chain.

This research supports United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7, to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
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Posted on:

18 Jul 2023

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