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Michael Gunawan

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PhD Candidate  | UNSW Sydney

Michael Gunawan is a PhD student in the Particles and Catalysis Technologies Lab in the School of Chemical Engineering and he is an affiliated PhD Student of the ARC Training Centre. Michael is passionate in solar energy utilization to produce value-added chemicals and techno-economic analysis. Starting his early career in BASF, a company where innovation and sustainability are two of their core values, has groomed Michael to be clean-energy advocate and motivated Michael to contribute to a world that provides a sustainable future for everyone by being a part of scientists that developing and deploying new technology for green and clean chemical production and fuel generation.

His research aims to develop an efficient stand-alone photoelectrocatalysis (PEC) system for both hydrogen generation and chemical production. With Australia receiving the highest solar radiation per area globally, PEC offers an opportunity to secure the direct conversion of solar energy into a usable form of chemical energy (e.g., H2) while simultaneously oxidize biomass (e.g., alcohol) to valuable chemicals. Current development for such PEC system is still focusing on water splitting (i.e., H2 and O2 generation) with the anodic water oxidation reaction continuing to be the limiting step which restricts practical application. Considering the sluggish oxygen generation reaction on the anode, the research focus needs to replace water oxidation with the thermodynamically more feasible organic oxidation will both convert the organic and improve the overall photoelectrochemical efficiency.

With his experience in project management in MBCC Group, Michael has a keen interest in techno-economic analysis and feasibility studies and has contributed to two projects on process design and techno-economic analysis: The sustainable methanol plant (runner-up in Indonesia Chemical Engineering Competition, 2018) and Green hydrogen (awarded AGIT prizes and runner up in CHEMECA Hackathon competition, 2022).

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