Critical minerals tech and a bionic eye among CRC project grants

James Riley
Editorial Director

A project to improve and commercialise technology for extracting critical minerals from bauxite residue and another that advances a ‘bionic eye’ for the sight impaired are among the latest recipients of Cooperative Research Centre grants.

Some 22 industry-led collaborative R&D projects will share $47.1 million in funding unveiled by Industry Minister Christian Porter on Friday.

Alumtex – extracting critical minerals from bauxite residue. Credit: Alumtek

The successful projects under round 11 of the Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) initiative will deliver a range of innovative technologies and leverage a further $86 million of cash and in-kind contributions from 95 project partners.

Queensland-based Alumtek Minerals and US-based miner Alcoa will lead a collaboration with Chemistry Centre WA with a $1.05 million grant to further develop and commercialise Alumtek proprietary technology for extracting various rare earth materials from bauxite residue.

The project will deliver a comprehensive test work program, building on previous positive proof-of-concept results, which will produce initial quantities of various critical minerals and rare earth elements.

And a team led by ARIA Research, the University of Sydney, UTS and the not-for-profit World Access For The Blind received a $2.6 million grant for further work on a breakthrough bionic medical device that delivers high-fidelity visual-spatial perception for blind people.

The project, which has a total value of $9.6 million, will enable ARIA to undertake preclinical evaluations, build early prototypes, undertake preclinical trials, and prepare for future clinical trials.

Mr Porter said the successful round 11 CRC-P projects were “outstanding examples” of what can be achieved by fostering research collaborations between industry and research organisations.

“These projects will address challenges in our National Manufacturing Priority areas and lead to tangible outcomes that will improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries, while growing the economy and creating new jobs,” Minister Porter said.

“CRC-Ps also help strengthen links between research organisations and industry, and support Australian businesses to develop new technologies, products, processes and services for global supply chains.

“Funded projects under the latest round involve 58 Australian companies, including 42 small and medium businesses, and 34 research organisations across the country.”

Other grant recipients in round 11 include:

  • SunPork (QLD) with a grant of $2,892,374 to eliminate the removal of pig’s tails, improving pig welfare and the sustainability of the pork industry.
  • Rux Energy (NSW) with a grant of $2,770,000 to develop an efficient hydrogen storage system, a key barrier to the uptake of a new zero-carbon fuel.
  • iOrthotics (QLD) with a grant of $2,044, 034 to advance the manufacturing of smart orthotics to reduce diabetes related amputations.
  • Seer Medical (VIC) with a grant of $465,183 to develop its long-term brain monitoring electrodes for an improved patient experience in the diagnosis of epilepsy.
  • DefendTex Research Labs (VIC) with a grant of $3,000,000 to establish a research centre in Gippsland, Victoria, for additive manufacturing of energetic materials to advance manufacturing capability for its rocket fuel additive for space launch.

The Cooperative Research Centres Association chief executive Jane O’Dwyer said the CRC-P program was a great framework for developing productive cooperative partnerships and making the most of the world-leading research know-how that Australia has in its research institutions.

“We know that for every dollar invested by government in collaborative research through the CRC Program, some three times the value is returned, generating more than $14 billion in direct economic benefits to the nation from CRC produced technologies, products and processes since the program was founded,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

You can find the full list of the latest CRC-P grant recipients here.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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