Page 779
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 11

I The Present Energy Economy

II Australian Energy Consumption

III Research And Development

IV Coal

V Oil And Natural Gas

VI Solar Energy
i Research and Development
ii The state of the art
iii Collectors
iv The solar water heating industry
v Industrial applications
vi Swimming pool heating
vii Building heating and cooling
viii Photovoltaics
ix Wind power
x Cooling
xi The International Solar Energy Society

VII Nuclear Energy

VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass

IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution

X Manufactured Gas

XI Industrial Process Heat



Contact us

Research and Development (continued)

The R&D programmes at that time were mostly confined to solar heat generating systems and one measure of their success is the number of patents of Australian origin which emerged. The Australian Patent Office reports that for the period 1920 to 1981, applications, by country of origin, in the solar thermal energy field were Australia 201, USA 199 and all other countries 319.

Of the 201 Australian applications 17 were lodged by CSIRO and 14 by universities or State instrumentalities, but the overwhelming majority were by companies or individuals. Although initially CSIRO was not patenting its developments in solar heating technology, it was widely distributing its publications and its researchers were closely in touch with their industrial colleagues. The Australian impact on the world's technology in this field was clearly significant.

An important factor in the transfer of R&D from CSIRO and the universities to industry, has been the establishment of the National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council in the late 1970s. NERDDC funds have been deliberately channelled to co-operative developments between Universities and industry and to individual companies. This has helped to promote a healthy level of R&D among manufacturers in Australia.

The development of the anti-freeze heat transfer system by Solahart, Beasley's novel thermosiphon flow system, and the joint development of more efficient photovoltaic cells by the University of New South Wales and BP Solar, have all been supported by NERDDC. Rheem is co-operating closely with the University of Sydney, using funds provided by NERDDC and the Energy Authority of New South Wales in an attempt to develop the University's pioneering work on evacuated tubular collectors. The Solar Energy Research Institute of Western Australia, the Victorian Solar Energy Research Committee and its successor the Victorian Solar Energy Council as well as the State Energy Authorities of New South Wales and South Australia have all supported research, development and demonstration projects in their States.

One of the largest individual research groups currently (1986) working on solar energy in Australia is at the University of Sydney. This group was formed in 1974, being funded under a University Development Grant. The group had early success in developing a new, highly stable selective surface and incorporating it into evacuated tubular collectors. This was followed by substantial outside funding from the New South Wales State Government and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Much of the R&D is closely integrated with industrial commercialisation activities, particularly those at Rheem Australia Limited in Sydney.

The major manufacturers Solahart, Beasley, Rheem and Edwards Hot Water Systems now undertake their own product development and their flat plate collectors, water heaters, and commercial and industrial installations are equal or superior to the products of their international competitors.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Patents Office; B.P. Solar Australia; Beasley Industries Pty Ltd; CSIRO; CSIRO Division of Mechanical Engineering; Edwards Hotwater Systems; Energy Authority of New South Wales; National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council (N.E.R.D.D.C.); Rheem Australia Ltd; S. W. Hart and Co. Ltd (Solahart); Solahart; Solar Energy Research Institute of Western Australia; State Energy Authority of South Australia; University of New South Wales; Victorian Solar Energy Council; Victorian Solar Energy Research Committee

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 804, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher