MBIE Grant Success

SCPS academics have hauled in a significant amount of MBIE funding in the current round.

SCPS academics have hauled in a significant amount of MBIE funding in the current round. Dr Justin Hodgkiss and Prof Jim Johnston were successful with their bids in the Smart-Ideas and Research-Programme categories, respectively.

Dr Hodgkiss, Senior Lecturer at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, received $1 million for a 3 year project which is developing a device for detecting and quantitatively mapping methamphetamine contamination in homes in-situ, thereby enabling more targeted and cost-effective remediation.

His team is also developing a real-time low-cost saliva test for methamphetamine to be used for roadside testing of motorists. The test currently available is rarely used as it is expensive, slow and unreliable (prone to false positives).

The project is a collaborative partnership with the Institute for Environmental Science and Research (ESR) Ltd, the Crown research institute responsible for providing forensic testing for New Zealand Police.

“As well as making New Zealand roads safer and helping our communities mitigate the ravages of methamphetamine, this project will benefit New Zealand through the high-value manufacturing of the analytical devices we are developing, which could be exported to law enforcement and housing agencies around the world suffering the same problems we’re addressing in New Zealand,” says Dr Hodgkiss.    

Prof Jim Johnston will pursue a 4-year, $3.2 million project on applying nanotechnology to enhance geothermal energy generation. By more efficiently tackling the unwanted deposition of silica that compromises geothermal energy production worldwide, the research team would bring about what Prof Johnston calls “a paradigm shift” in the industry. The team includes researchers from HERA (Heavy Equipment Research Association) and will work closely with New Zealand geothermal companies.