Research Programs

The UNSW SMaRT Centre brings together the distinctive research capabilities of UNSW’s academics and a track record of delivering research and technology suitable for rapid implementation. The SMaRT Centre aims to be an internationally recognised centre for the development of sustainable materials technologies and is proud to have a strong track record collaborating and helping industry and other stakeholders achieve better business and environmental outcomes. 

Goals of the Centre:

  • Research, develop and implement sustainable materials technologies
  • Enhance the sustainable development of industries
  • Reduce environmental impact of waste and by-products
  • Technology transfer for industry transformation

Green materials

The SMaRT Centre, through its various research programs and projects, is best known for is pioneering microrecycling science and Microfactorie® technologies. These science and technologies have resulted in the production of various 'green materials' which are made entirely, or primarily, from the rubbish we throw away. This may not be immediately apparent because they look just as good and perform just as well or better than conventional materials made from virgin raw materials.

But, they are usually cheaper and more sustainable, so they’re better for business and consumers, and for communities and the environment. SMaRT green materials reduce demand for energy, which helps cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, because all production processes are designed to minimise energy consumption and to replace the finite natural resources industries rely on by using alternatives derived from waste.

And, when we reduce pressures on virgin resources we also save the energy otherwise used in mining and transport, SMaRT green materials are also non-toxic, because our processes safely eliminate or neutralise toxins. We work in partnership with the many businesses and industries that want to improve the way we manufacture, and who understand what real world markets demand.

We can, for example, produce high quality green steel and building materials using waste or transform e-waste into valuable metal alloys; with no loss of quality in the final products. We can even use carbon rich macadamia nuts waste shells in place of non-renewable coke in the production of highly advanced materials like silicon carbide, a valuable industrial additive. We can use plastic from e-waste and other sources to produce high quality filament as a feedstock resource for manufacturers and other users who do 3D printing. And we can transform problematic waste materials, such as glass, textiles and plastics, into new value-added materials and products such as green ceramics for the built environment.

Because we can transform waste almost anywhere it is stockpiled, SMaRT green materials create more local jobs, something that’s especially important in ‘rust belt’ regions where old industries are in decline.