Curtin University industry technology to be pilot tested at Curtin Malaysia

Miri – 2 September 2021 – New 3D-printed structured packing technology that offers cleaner and more efficient gas separation and chemical processing across various industries will be tested at the Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant (SBPP) at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia).

The collaboration, made possible by the support of the Australian Federal Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation programme, will ensure the SpiroPak project can be tested at operational scale at the SBPP.

The technology, developed by a team of Curtin researchers, enables greater efficiencies in the material separation of large-scale chemical processing industries such as chemicals manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, LNG and food. Using 3D-printed technology, the SpiroPak’s unique helicoidal flow path sets it apart from other structured packing, enabling a smoother flow and more efficient separation of many different gases and liquids.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said the Accelerating Commercialisation programme offered researchers, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses access to expert advice and funding to help get a new product, process or service to market.

“This Curtin technology has the potential to save chemical manufacturing and processing industries millions of dollars each year by offering a more effective and energy-efficient separation process,” he said. “Receiving this support from the Accelerating Commercialisation programme will help take SpiroPak’s innovative technology a step closer to being used widely across a range of industries, turning leading research into real-world solutions.”

Curtin University Commercialisation Director Rohan McDougall said the team behind SpiroPak was named the overall winner at the 2019 Curtinnovation Awards, which will be held again this month.

“Curtin is committed to fostering a culture of innovation and helping researchers who develop novel concepts or inventions to assess the commercial viability of their products or services and the best method of bringing them to market,” he said. “With this support from the Australian federal government, the SpiroPak team will be able to demonstrate the technology’s use in various industries, including through a full-scale trial at Curtin Malaysia’s Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant.”

Meanwhile, Curtin Malaysia’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Simon Leunig said, “The testing of SpiroPak will be the SBPP’s most significant research project to date and we are pleased Curtin University has chosen to carry out the testing here. It proves that we have both the facilities and capabilities to carry out world-class research and development here in Sarawak.”

The SBPP is a purpose-built research and development facility owned by the Sarawak State Government and managed and operated by Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of Curtin Malaysia. Completed in 2019, the RM60.6 million facility allows researchers to scale up using industry-relevant processes and equipment and produce quantitative data to evaluate whether commercial production will be justifiable against the investment which will be needed to do so.

Professor Leunig said Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. is actively engaging with industry to facilitate research that can be turned into commercially viable products that benefit individuals and whole communities at national and global levels. The SBPP is available to industries for the development of new bio-based products and processes, providing high quality testing and development facilities in product analysis, product enhancement and quality assurance, as well as infrastructure and facilities for incubators.

“Partnering with us will give them not just access to a broad range of expertise and specialised facilities at the SBPP, but also multidisciplinary research networks within Curtin Malaysia and Curtin University in Perth,” he said.

Professor Leunig added that research at the SBPP will also be aligned to Sarawak’s developmental thrusts. This includes self-sufficiency in livestock production and an export fruit industry. Inaugural projects carried out at the SBPP have included the processing of extractables from planted crops for use in the production of nutraceuticals, processing of insect protein for the production of organic chicken, and the extraction of oil and oleoresin from the iconic Sarawak black pepper and Dabai.

Curtin Malaysia was Curtin University’s first international campus when it opened in 1999 and is currently its largest global campus and hub in Southeast Asia. Located in Miri, Curtin Malaysia offers a unique cross-cultural learning experience with students from more than 50 different countries and teaching staff from more than 15 countries.

For more information on Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. and the SBPP, go to biovalley.curtin.edu.my.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at curtin.edu.my, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn.

The Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at Curtin Malaysia.

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