The Net Zero Initiative harnesses the resources of the University of Sydney to develop technologies and systems to support the decarbonisation of the world.
The Net Zero Initiative, launched in 2020 brings together over 100 of the world’s top researchers across engineering, science, urban planning, policy, carbon accounting, behavioural science, and renewables to help government, industry and communities to manufacture, deploy and adopt low emissions technology swiftly, cost-effectively and at scale. As a university, our research has underpinned new industries, companies, and technologies. Our researchers have launched highly successful ASX-listed companies and we have partnered with thousands of organisations and government departments globally. We have educated industry leaders, entrepreneurs and policy makers. We invest in state-of-the art facilities.
Our research spans four themes that are central to the realisation of a net zero future. The major research effort focuses on either emissions avoidance or carbon removal. Our contribution to the development of new technologies for emissions avoidance seeks to:
- create new systems to deliver reliable, low cost, zero emissions energy, and
- reduce the demand for products and services that result in greenhouse gas emissions
In addition, we are also developing new, low-cost options to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Finally, the NZI recognises that the transition to a net zero world will require the active participation of the private capital markets, and that investors in new assets on the road to net zero will need a firm understanding of the risks to businesses posed by climate change.
See our research in action
Preparing steel for the net zero transition
Hydrogen could see the end fossil fuels, with “green” hydrogen requiring only electricity and water for its manufacture. But for a large roll-out of hydrogen power and for Australia to lead in this space, there’s one huge hurdle that must be addressed. That hurdle is known as “hydrogen embrittlement”. See how some of our researchers are finding solutions to this challenging problem.
Making ammonia in a net zero world
Ammonia is critical for food supply and a potential energy carrier. However, the production of ammonia results is responsible for 2% of global emissions. A collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales has found a way to make ammonia production “green”, using only air and water. The trick is ”cold plasma”, created using renewable electricity. See the cold plasma tube in operation.
Researching sustainable concrete
If cement production was a country, it would the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the USA. Our researchers are looking at ways of using waste streams to make cement and concrete. This reduces waste to landfill streams and lowers Australia’s greenhouse emissions.
Researching the low emissions future of aviation
Our researchers are looking to the future of aviation by developing powering drones using hydrogen, super-capacitors and fuel cells. As well as increasing the range of drones for surveillance tasks, it points to the future of flying as the technology is scaled up.