Posted on 13. Sep, 2010 in Victoria

A leading Australian materials scientist who invented the world’s first zero waste technology for the plastics and car industry has been awarded the prestigious 2010 Victoria Prize.

Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings today announced that Associate Professor Wojciech Gutowski had won the $50,000 prize for being ahead of his time in solving many difficult technology problems.

Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser, AC, presented the award to Dr Gutowski at Government House today.

Dr Gutowski’s work addressed the waste problem faced by the car industry which uses 9.68 million litres of paints a year in car manufacturing – with all solvents used in the process becoming airborne and 2.5 million litres of solids going to landfill.

“Dr Gutowski has developed a coating technology that uses solvent-less powder resins that enables powder coatings, paints and inks to better adhere to plastics,” Mr Jennings said.

“His innovation has resulted in drastically reducing the need for solvent-based paints and allows the metal body parts of cars and building components to be replaced with lighter, less expensive plastic and composite parts.

“It has the potential to revolutionise the future of manufacturing industries that make painted plastic components for cars, furniture and buildings. This could save the Australian car industry at least $100 million a year and ensure they become cleaner and greener.”

Dr Gutowski’s development has been commercialised by Dulux and the potential of this new technology for next generation clean energy and car, aerospace and bio-medical applications is also being investigated.

As the CSIRO’s Chief Research Scientist of the Materials Science and Engineering Division, Dr Gutowski has received national and international recognition from the industry and the community sector including the Banksia Environmental Award and the Premier’s Eco-Innovation Award.

As part of the Victoria Prize, the Materials Science and Engineering Division of CSIRO (as the lead organisation in Dr Gutowski’s research) receives the Anne & Eric Smorgon Memorial Award of $100,000 from the Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation.

Mr Jennings also announced the six winners of the Victoria Fellowships, which assist emerging leaders in science, engineering and technology.

They receive an $18,000 travel grant to undertake a short-term international study mission, to receive specialist training, or to develop commercial ideas.

The Victorian Fellowship winners are:

Suzanne Ftouni – to test Optalert technology in the detection and prevention of drowsy drivers;

Dr Matthew Hill – to further research materials to store carbon dioxide safely and efficiently;

Dr Baohua Hia – to further develop solar cells that can cheaply and efficiently convert solar energy into electricity;

Dr Michelle Ma – to continue testing molecular compounds developed for use in detecting early stage cancer;

Denise Miles – to continue investigating the cause of testicular cancer, the incidence of which has doubled worldwide since 1982; and

Dr Sant-Rayn Pasricha – to work with the World Health Organisation on global policy development for iron deficiency anaemia which affects 1 billion people worldwide.


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