The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington

The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington is receiving funding from 2 SSIF platforms – Advanced Energy Technology and Data Science. On this page are the public statements from our contracts with The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington describing the programmes being funded.

High power electric motors for large-scale transport

The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington is receiving $15 million over 7 years to deliver the Advanced Energy Technology research programme “High power electric motors for large-scale transport”. The following is the public statement for this programme from our contract with The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington.

The world needs to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to limit the impact of global warming. New Zealand has set itself a challenging target, to be net carbon-zero by 2050. Not counting agriculture, transportation is the largest source of our greenhouse gas emissions. Our tourism sector depends on flying; while our exports depend on shipping. To stop using fossil fuels, we need to start using electricity. Fortunately New Zealand has an advantage – over 80% of our energy is generated from renewable sources, and we have plenty of scope to increase it to 100% using wind, solar, and geothermal. 

The biggest technological challenge is to electrify aviation, followed by heavy transport: rail, shipping, and heavy trucks.  Electric planes are still in their infancy. But superconducting machines offer two advantages for electric aircraft: they are small and light, relative to their power output. New Zealand has been working on superconductors since the 1980s, and NZ is home to some of the world’s leading superconductivity researchers.  They have already been working with Airbus and Boeing on superconducting aircraft. In this programme, they will be working with NZ’s leading researchers in power electronics.

The research in this programme looks at how to make superconducting machines for aircraft. We will prove our technologies first for rail, shipping, and trucks, because they are easier targets – weight and size are much less critical. Our research is globally relevant, and we will be working with excellent researchers from around the world, from Cambridge to KAIST and Kyoto. We have some big international names behind us, including Airbus, Boeing, Hypertech, WiTricity, and Kalsi Green Power Systems. We will develop a cohort of engineers to take these new technologies forward, including mentoring young Māori researchers into high-flying careers.

Read more about High power electric motors for large-scale transport(external link) 

A data-science driven evolution of aquaculture for building the blue economy

The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington is receiving $13 million over 7 years to deliver the Data Science programme “A data-science driven evolution of aquaculture for building the blue economy”.  The following is the public statement for this programme from our contract with The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington.

Aquaculture is New Zealand’s best opportunity to sustainably grow its Blue Economy, yet the industry is facing significant challenges in achieving its $1 Billon revenue target by 2025. We now have more mussel farms, but the total annual yield hasn’t increased. Could it be due to climate change? The industry depends on natural sources of spat (mussel larvae) found in springtime off Ninety Mile Beach. Little is known about where it comes from – or how best to get spat to adhere to the growing ropes. Mussel farming relies on experience, but conditions change from farm to farm and season to season.

The aquaculture industry thinks that data science could be the answer. By bringing marine scientists together with specialists in machine learning, modelling, and data visualization, we will develop new science to support decision-making, so farm managers can respond to climate challenges, manage disease, improve production yields, and farm sustainably at scale. Applying data science to marine farming makes sense. 

In this programme, we will develop innovative data science techniques that will enable the aquaculture industry to produce efficiently and at large scale, producing high-quality, low-carbon protein for New Zealand and the world without compromising the environment. To do this, we will build data science knowledge in the industry.

Māori own large aquaculture assets.  With our partners Whakatōhea and the Wakatū Incorporation, we will co-design a programme to educate young Māori in data science and create the next generation of industry leaders. All our students, from undergraduate to PhD, will work with industry within the research programme and through internships and summer projects.

Aquaculture data poses immense challenges for the researchers, so our programme is led by our best data scientists, guided by distinguished international researchers. Our students will learn from the world’s best.

Last updated: 16 September 2020