The University of Tasmania will lead research into boosting regional capability and developing value-added products for the food and wood industries, following success in a national grants program.
The $4 million project was one of six to be awarded funding through the Federal Government’s Regional Research Collaboration Program, announced by Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, on 7 September.
The program aims to link universities with local businesses to solve regional and global challenges in energy, agriculture and health.
University of Tasmania project lead, Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly Wapstra said the project would leverage the expertise of 13 research and industry partners and was poised to deliver impact across two key economic sectors.
“Food and wood products are areas of strategic growth for Tasmania and regional Australia, contributing significantly to the annual Tasmanian economy,” Associate Professor O’Reilly Wapstra said.
“A thriving and sustainable sector requires continued innovation to locally value-add and diversify products and markets. This innovation is underpinned by high-impact research and a workforce that is connected to advances in technology and trained graduates.
“We are excited to be working with our research and industry partners to build our research capacity in these areas and help our regional food and wood industries prosper.”
The three-year project will focus on building research capability at the University across three main areas:
Food, packaging and associated products suitable for the food services sector:
Using microwave assisted thermal sterilisation (MATS) technology to optimise the rapid food sterilisation process. This includes the development of advanced technology to make shelf-stable foods that can be stored without refrigeration while maintaining quality, providing opportunities to boost regional capabilities and food exports for local industries.
Forest and wood products recovered from plantation hardwoods:
Focuses on how to productively use the plantation hardwood resource in high value-added manufacturing and construction applications. This includes product development, forest-to-building design approaches, and advanced design visualisation and fabrication tools. Long-term impact will be value-adding of wood as a sustainable, renewable building material and reduction in the carbon intensity of the construction sector.
Processing and value-recovery from wood production residues:
Builds research strengths in converting residues to bioproducts which can be used as biodegradable, new generation sustainable plastic alternatives and gain capacity in advanced extraction and separation methods to create bio-based chemicals and fuels.
The project involves researchers from the University of Tasmania, Monash University and University of Queensland in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, international collaborators and national industry partners from the food, wood and energy sectors.