The University of Melbourne, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Research Field: Climate change mitigation

The solution to climate change is about reducing carbon emissions to the environment as cheaply as possible, so that you and your family and friends do not pay a costly burden for Australia to meet emission reduction targets. To do this Australian researchers must focus on and promote carbon reduction technologies, which is the focus of Dr. Scholes research.

Colin explores membrane technology to separate out carbon from industry gases. In essence a membrane is a plastic film, much like cling-wrap, that selectively allows carbon to pass through while preventing all other gases, such as oxygen, from doing likewise. The membrane allows carbon to be filtered from the waste gases industry produce and prevents the carbon escaping into the atmosphere. The primary focus of Colin’s research is developing efficient filtering membranes and demonstrating them to Australian industry.

The overall aim is to provide carbon intense industries, such as coal-fired power stations, with a viable technology that can be used today. This will enable Australian industry to rapidly reduce their carbon emissions cheaply in the near future and hence reduce the cost burden that may otherwise be passed on to consumers due to government regulations. Climate change being such an important topic in society today means Colin is constantly engaging with the general public to educate
about the risks of climate change and highlight that solutions are available.

Colin does this through presentations to diverse audiences as well as contributions to papers in popular science magazines, such as Scientifique Sans Frontieres Australia. He’s also active in getting scientists out of the lab and in contact with people needing their skills. Two highlights of 2011 were appearing on both Scope and Catalyst television programs.