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The 'queen of green steel' launches landmark e-waste microfactory

Date: 09-Apr-18
Author: Josh Cole

Veena and Gariela Upton © Claire Bell

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, the founder and director of UNSW's Sustainable Material Research & Technology Centre (SMaRT), has launched a world-first miniature factory that turns e-waste into material for 3D printing.

The professor is also the inventor of a process which makes ‘green steel’ by turning high carbon products such as tyres into fuel to make steel, and was a regular judge on ABC TV’s The New Inventors.

Her new invention, launched on April 4 at UNSW, is a small-scale factory that can recycle e-waste, such as phones and laptops, making them into material that can be used to feed 3D printers.

When we say small, we mean small. Compared to a conventional factory floor, one of SMART’s microfactories can fit in a space of 50 square metres, or roughly the floorspace of a studio apartment.

Professor Sahajwalla says it’s an opportunity to decentralise e-waste collection and sorting facilities, and create work in regional areas.

“Using our green manufacturing technologies, these microfactories can transform waste where it is stockpiled and created, enabling local businesses and communities to not only tackle local waste problems but to develop a commercial opportunity from the valuable materials that are created.”

Planet Ark is grateful for Veena’s support for our National Recycling Week campaign, and we can’t wait to see what innovations she has in store.


Josh                                              Cole
Author: Josh Cole

Josh comes to Planet Ark after a stint in legal communication and from a background in print journalism. He studied Communications and Media as a mature age student in Wollongong where he re-discovered his love for the natural environment.

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