As global demands for energy increase, the world will be required to transform traditional energy technologies and systems, while supporting renewable energy technologies and the development of new concepts and emerging solutions.

Global challenges we are addressing:

Alternative energy

How can we make new energy sources available and economically viable?

Some of our research in alternative energy sources includes:

Geothermal Energy

Australia has very significant geothermal energy resources, but despite this potential, there is currently no commercial geothermal energy production for power generation purposes.

Since its establishment, UQ’s Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence has engaged in extensive and on-going discussions with the Australian Geothermal Energy Industry and Commonwealth and State Governments to assess what needs to be done to realise Australia’s geothermal energy potential.

The QGECE adopted a strategy of addressing the fundamental issues concerning power conversion and air cooled condensers rather than running after quick partial solutions. As a result of our investment over the years in developing the requisite skills and research laboratories, the QGECE is now the only team in Australia with an international reputation and the recognised capability to develop efficient and cost-effective geothermal power technologies.

Solar and Biofuels

Meeting the world's growing demand for energy, while minimising related impacts on the environment, represent great technical challenges. UQ’s capabilities in innovative energies have received a major boost through significant infrastructure investments, attracting research leaders in the field of solar energy, and biofuel research.

Solar - The global market for photovoltaic systems is now expanding by 35 percent per year but large-scale use of solar energy requires a dramatic reduction in the cost-to-efficiency ratio. Significant research is needed to satisfy the requirements of scale up, cost and reliability.

Biofuels - UQ's capabilities in biofuel and bioenergy research span disciplines including plant science, microbiology, engineering, and biotechnology. Our research covers many second generation biofuel technologies including the development of alcohol (methanol, butanol) fuel products from bio-electrochemical systems, green diesel from vegetable oil, micro-algal biofuel systems and biohydrogen production.

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Minimising environmental impact

How can we mitigate the environmental effects of fossil fuels?

Some of our research in environmental impact includes:

Low Emissions Coal Technology

Carbon capture and storage is a means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming, based on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point surfaces such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage is globally recognised as an essential technology for meeting low emission coal targets.

UQ has established a Centre for Coal Energy Technology to strengthen low emission coal research, whose research includes:

  • Advanced zero emission power systems
  • CO2 sorbents for high temperature applications
  • CO2 sorbents for low temperature applications
  • Calcium looping technology
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Increasing reliability and efficiency

How can we improve the efficiency and reliability of power systems?

Some of our research in energy reliability and efficiency includes:

Analysing and predicting the dynamic behaviour of power systems

Power and energy systems research activities are centred around power system stability and condition assessment of critical infrastructure. Power systems are generally large, non-linear, interconnected and complex. There is a significant need for an improvement in the planning and operation of such power systems to avoid catastrophic blackouts. The research is specifically directed at the analysis and prediction of the dynamic behaviour of power systems for reliable and secure operations.

A significant proportion of the electricity infrastructure in Australia and other countries is aged and requires special attention. The focus is therefore industry orientated research and aims to deliver next generation condition assessment techniques that comprise accurate modelling and interpretative tools for power transformers, underground cables and other plant assets. The Power & Energy Systems research is also involved with generation and transmission planning issues in a deregulated electricity market environment, and is actively working on a number of challenging problems relevant to renewable energy and distributed generation integration to the main national grid.

Hypersonics: Efficient conversion from fuel to flight

UQ is a pioneer in advancing the air-breathing ‘Scramjet’ that has the ability to travel at hypersonic speeds of Mach 10 and make the deployment of satellites cheaper and more reliable, paving the way for cost effective flights into space.

In order to make a scramjet work, researchers need to choose a fuel that can burn rapidly and produce a large amount of thrust. Hydrogen fits these prerequisites perfectly.

Researching the benefits of gaseous hydrogen as a fuel, UQ’s hypersonics team have collaborated on diverse projects with leading national and international research groups, such as DSTO, NASA, DLR (the German Aerospace Center), the European Space Agency, Boeing and many highly ranked Universities.

Power System Security

As power systems expand and renewable generation increases, power system security becomes the most important and difficult criteria to assess and maintain. Power system security is a measure of the ability of the power system to withstand faults affecting a single critical transmission line or large generator without the system losing stability, collapsing, or operating outside of its allowable voltage or frequency limits.

UQs Power and Energy Systems Research Group has advanced expertise in identifying and evaluating the security of modern power systems including the new threats of solar PV generation and wind-power due to its unpredictable variability, low synchronous inertia and different dynamic characteristics. New techniques are being developed by the group to evaluate and maintain power system security as Australia transitions towards much higher levels of renewable generation, especially distributed solar PV, wind-power, battery storage systems and electric vehicles.

The group’s state-of-the-art power system analysis and renewable energy simulation laboratories, together with its extensive simulation capabilities ensure a strategic advantage in the power system security analysis area.

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Related research centres and groups

Centre for Hypersonics

The Centre for Hypersonics conducts research into all aspects of hypersonic flight, including test facilities, air-breathing engines, rocket flight testing, aerothermodynamics, computational fluid dynamics and optical diagnostics.

Centre for Natural Gas

The Centre for Natural Gas conducts and coordinates research on technical and social challenges associated with the development of coal seam gas resources in Australia.

Clean Energy and Water Research Group

Focuses on design and preparation of advanced materials for electrochemical energy storage, water purification, low-temperature methane combustion, and carbon dioxide utilisation.

Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation

The Dow Centre aims to foster, identify, and facilitate innovations in economically and environmentally sustainable processes associated with the production and use of energy, water, food, and chemicals.


One of the premier research laboratories in Australia, focusing on applications of inorganic membrane technology such as gas separation and membrane reactors at high temperatures, various liquid separations, and desalination.

Geotechnical Engineering

The Geotechnical Engineering Centre has an active research program and consulting activities specialising in a range of fields in geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering and computational modelling.

Mineral Processing and Interfacial Processes

The UQ Mineral Processing and Interfacial Processes Research Group specialises in the study of the physics and chemistry of interfacial processes involving gas/liquid/solid phases.

Power and Energy Systems

Our research activities are centered around renewable generation integration, condition assessment of critical power infrastructure and power electronics control and applications. This includes power system stability, state estimation for distribution networks, power quality, control and operation of power systems and transformer condition monitoring with a specific focus on the needs of the Australian electricity supply industry.

Renewable Energy Conversion

The Renewable Energy Conversion Centre of Excellence (RECCE) addresses our current and future energy needs through better conversion and management of energy from both renewable sources; like geothermal, solar, wind energy and fuel cells, and non-renewable counterparts.