We are delighted to announce our appointment as a preferred intellectual property provider for CSIRO, Australia’s leading national science and technology organisation.
CSIRO is one of the largest and most diverse agencies in the world funding research into a broad spectrum of industries from food, health and energy, to environment, ICT, materials and minerals. In addition to funding research, CSIRO also plays an active role in the commercialisation of its investments to ensure that today’s cutting-edge discoveries become tomorrow’s transformational technologies. To date, CSIRO has developed over 150 spin out companies, has interest in 34 companies, and holds more than 150 active IP licenses that generate revenue to help supplement the research funding. Over 90% of CSIRO’s scientific research is publicly available, however they are also Australia’s largest patent holder, with just over 3,500 patents (granted or pending) and related intellectual property in over 85 different countries.
Developing cutting-edge technology
One transformational technology in which CSIRO is investing is the use of new highly porous materials called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) or porous aromatic frameworks (PAFs). These porous materials have an exceptionally high surface area, for example, just 1gm of metal organic frameworks can absorb the equivalent of a football field volume of gas.
Metal organic frameworks are a versatile material with a variety of practical applications. Acting like a sponge, membrane, catalyst or sensor, the material is an ideal candidate for gas storage, gas membrane separation and is carbon capture absorbent. The material is so versatile and useful, that CSIRO is managing this as a ‘platform’ technology, and is exploring multiple application areas to further develop the science and attract commercial opportunities.
To underpin this research, CSIRO is building a comprehensive IP portfolio with patents protecting novel (functionalised) metal organic frameworks, novel manufacturing processes and novel applications. This research is supported by collaborations with more than a dozen research institutes and at least five multinational industry partners or small to medium enterprises.
CSIRO has recently developed a novel MOF material which could have significant benefits for the automotive industry of the future. The new technology is a combination of metal organic frameworks and a functionalised fullerene, often referred to as a ‘Russian Doll’. This technology dramatically improves hydrogen storage by holding twice as much gas as the separate materials.
At present, the efficient use of hydrogen as fuels is limited by the current requirement to store them in large, heavy and dangerous high-pressure or cryogenic tanks. Storage of hydrogen and methane is further complicated by the fact that these gases are flammable, and in some situations, explosive. This new technology allows for amore compact and stable storage container to be produced (see illustration above). As hydrogen cars are the future, this compact method of storing hydrogen could help make this dream a reality.
In another exciting development, CSIRO has discovered a new application for the MOFs – a new way to recycle CO2 emissions using renewable energy. A metal organic framework has been developed which adsorbs carbon dioxide, and instantaneously releases it when exposed to sunlight. Known as ‘dynamic photo-switching’, this capture-and-release method is extremely energy efficient and only requires UV light to trigger the release of CO2 after it has been captured from the mixture of exhaust gases.
Intellectual property protection
Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick has been working with CSIRO for over 40 years and we are delighted to be continuing our relationship. We look forward to working on more of CSIRO’s innovative technologies.
POF would like to thank Anna Johnston from CSIRO for her contribution to this article.