Monash University has opened a new innovation centre focused on tools like big data and 3D printing to develop new technologies for the energy sector, with energy giant Woodside Petroleum contributing $10 million over five years to the venture.
The Woodside Innovation Centre will conduct research into materials engineering, additive manufacturing and data science, with the aim of creating new innovations that can be applied to oil and gas facilities.
Researchers at the centre will have access to a range of tools, including a selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printer, to prototype the development of corrosion-resistant duplex and super-duplex grade stainless steel components for energy plants.
The research facility follows heavy investment by the university into data initiatives through its MASSIVE series of supercomputers, its CAVE-2 data visualisation facility, and the southern hemisphere’s largest Ceph storage cluster.
Monash University’s engineering and IT dean Frieder Seible said the centre would draw on these facilities, along with the university’s research expertise in new materials, new manufacturing methods, and data analytics.
“Monash has Australia’s most advanced 3D visualisation environment for fully immersive analytics of big data sets. These leading capabilities provide Woodside engineers, embedded at the centre’s lab, the opportunity to transfer that technology back to the workplace,” Seible said in a statement.
The centre forms part of Woodside’s FutureLabs program, launched last year, which aims to forge partnerships with research institutions, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and other industries.
The Monash facility is the third partnership in the program, which also includes research centres at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.
“We are really excited about collaborating with researchers and experts from Monash to identify opportunities to solve real-life challenges we face at Woodside,” Woodside chief technology officer Shaun Gregory said in a statement.
Woodside's 2014 $45 million strategic technology plan detailed investments into remote operations, analytics and innovation hubs.
Since unveiling the strategy, the company has deployed IBM Watson to sift through more than 30 years of data, and implemented 200,000 sensors at its Pluto liquefied natural gas plant in a bid to prevent catastrophic events caused by gas foaming.