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Research heating up wearable ‘air-con’ technology

Energy Materials Professor Zhi-Gang Chen awarded national funding for personal heat management research

Do you always feel hot? New research into wearable cooling technology has received a funding boost to help find an answer to those summer swelters.

Federal Minister for Education Alan Tudge yesterday (July 29) announced $428,541 for the University of Southern Queensland though the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.

The grant will continue the innovative work of Energy Materials Professor Zhi-Gang Chen who is developing wearable thermoelectric materials and devices with high cooling performance for personal heat management.

University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie welcomed the announcement.

“This is an outstanding result for the University and demonstrative of our research excellence in the field of advanced engineering, and I congratulate Professor Chen,” Professor Mackenzie said.

Professor Chen is utilising his expertise in functional materials to help place Australia at the forefront of the wearable electronics and garment industry.

“Thermoregulation has substantial implications for energy consumption and human comfort and health,” he said.

“Personal heat management includes personal cooling, heating, heat insulation, and temperature adjustment functions, which are more flexible and extensive than traditional air/liquid cooling suits for the human body.

“We’re taking a novel assembly approach to engineer thermoelectric materials with unique structures and chemistry.

“We’re working towards cost-effective, eco-friendly, and wearable thermoelectrics that can be integrated with wool or fabrics to form smart textiles.”

Minister Tudge said the approved Linkage projects would have real-world benefits for Australians.

“These are exciting research projects looking at everything from how we can better design schools and encourage more blood donations, right through to improving agricultural practices and developing new laser technology for space and defence applications,” Minister Tudge said.

“I would love to see many of these projects culminate in world-first breakthroughs or new products that change the way we live, work and communicate.”

Learn about the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences

Man in computer lab
Energy Materials Professor Zhi-Gang Chen