Leading materials scientist and engineer Professor Veena Sahajwalla was born and raised in Mumbai, India – one of the most densely populated cities on Earth. As such, she is all too aware of the huge amounts of waste which society can produce and has made it her personal mission to lessen its environmental and social impact.
Sahajwalla is the Director of UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre), which has developed innovative pathways to reduce the environmental harm caused by vast amounts of electronic waste.
The world’s waste mountains are packed with useful elements like carbon and hydrogen, and materials like silica and metals, which our industries would otherwise have to access from virgin resources.
Sahajwalla is leading the global race to create microfactory technology that is successful in untangling the complexity of electronic waste, through her selective thermal transformation solutions, which bring a small-scale solution to the world’s massive waste problem for the first time. In the future, these microfactories will enable industries to produce many products and resources using materials largely derived from waste.
By decentralizing manufacturing, this new microfactory technology will also bring positive economic and social impacts, particularly in remote locations such as island markets or regional areas, where the logistics of waste transportation and processing are prohibitively expensive.
Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla will discuss her team’s innovative research when she presents ‘Green Microfactories: Products from Waste’.
ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a materials scientist and engineer, and founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Sydney.
Sahajwalla’s research is revolutionizing research science to unlock the wealth of resources embedded in the wastes currently destined for landfill. She is internationally renowned for her EAF ‘green’ steelmaking process that has recycled millions of used tyres as a partial replacement for coke.
Sahajwalla has received numerous international and national accolades including the PLuS Alliance Prize for Research Innovation and the prestigious Jubilee Professorship from the Indian Academy of Sciences (2017), Innovation Winner, the AFR-Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards (2016); ‘Howe Memorial Lecture Award’, Pittsburgh, USA (2013).Overall Winner, the Australian Innovation Challenge (2012); Banksia Environmental Foundation – GE Eco Innovation Award (2012); the Nokia Business Innovation Award, presented at the Telstra Business Women's Awards (2011); a NSW Science & Engineering Award (2008); and the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research (2005).