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New NZ Centre World Leader for $100 bn industry

Light Metals Research Centre

Media Release

Embargoed to Friday, October 11 – JPEGS AVAILABLE

New NZ Centre World Leader for $100 billion industry

AUCKLAND, 11 October 2002: A new research centre at The University of Auckland is expected to be a world leader in providing research and development for the $100 billion light metals’ industry, Dr John Kernohan, CEO of Auckland UniServices Limited, the company founded to manage and develop the University’s commercial activities, said today.

“The Light Metals Research Centre, The University of Auckland, builds on the recognition that scientists and engineers at the University have earned by being pre-eminent in this field over 20 years. The depth of resource and expertise now available at the Centre will enable it to take a leading role in meeting global need for environmentally sustainable processes and products, “Dr Kernohan said.

“We expect the value of the light metals sector to grow significantly. Reducing vehicle weight by a third, for example, cuts fuel consumption by about a third, so there is a huge demand for light metals, such as aluminium, to be produced more efficiently to cut costs and reduce greenhouse emissions.

“The sale and licensing of expertise developed at the University will be an important revenue earner and contribute to expanded research resources.

“The Centre puts New Zealand in the jump seat of one of the century’s defining industries. “

The Centre has already signed contracts to undertake research for companies in Germany, France and Norway, and is finalising a cooperative agreement with a major Chinese research institute and refractories manufacturer.

Dr Kernohan said the Centre was expected to generate $1m–plus revenues for the University in under three years.

In co-operation with the University of New South Wales, the Centre will offer a Certificate and a post-graduate Diploma specialising in Aluminium Smelting, and has enrolled students from Norway, Germany, France, Argentina, Bahrain, South Africa and Iceland.

Dr Mark Taylor has been appointed Director of the Centre after 19 years in the aluminium industry with Comalco Australia. He was most recently General Manager of the Boyne Island smelter in Queensland, which has become the world’s fifth largest aluminium smelter in recent years.

The Centre is installing specialised computing facilities for mathematical modelling of complex metallurgical processes and developing a purpose-built laboratory for simulating process conditions.

Emeritus Professor Barry Welch, who has been recognised as the pre-eminent world expert in the aluminium smelting industry for many years, Professor Jim Metson of the Department of Chemistry, in the Faculty of Science, and Professor John Chen and Dr Margaret Hyland, both of the Department of Chemicals and Materials Engineering in the School of Engineering will lead research at the Centre.

In collaboration with Comalco Research Centre and Dr Taylor’s own staff this team helped achieve a $40m increase in export sales and a reduction of CO2 emissions equivalent to 100,000 tonnes per year at the Comalco smelter in Tiwai Pt.

Professor Welch said the timing was right for the launch of the Centre. “Light metals play a key role in advancing new environmental quality standards – this Centre will help develop that potential, and bring real benefits to New Zealand and to the University,” he said.


Auckland UniServices Limited
Auckland UniServices Limited is New Zealand’s leading knowledge and technology transfer company, linking industry to the resources and skills of The University of Auckland.
UniServices is wholly owned by The University of Auckland. It manages the University’s commercial research contracts, owns and commercialises its intellectual property estate, and forms new companies based around the University’s intellectual property.

For further information:
Robert Mannion
027 2310301

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