Enabling a Better Future

Local Energy for the Global Future

Dye sensitised solar cells

DSSCs are constructed by impregnating a titanium dioxide thin film with a pigment that can be obtained from renewable sources such as berries. A cathode and anode are constructed from conductive glass slides, with the TiO2/pigment film on the anode and the cathode coated in carbon (from a “lead” pencil). A liquid electrolyte (iodine/iodide in propylene glycol) is then placed between the anode and cathode to complete the system.

There is little prior research on the use of native plants as source of dyes for DSSC and thus an opportunity for students to also create novel research results.


Learnings: This activity will allow students to learn more about local flora and discuss sustainable energy sources and some chemistry and electronics. Upper secondary students will be able to extend the learning to electrochemistry and organic chemistry.

Requirements: At least two class periods of 1-2 hours each is required. .

Algae for sustainability

Algae are major producers of oxygen and can also be harvested for food and as biopharmaceuticals and lipids, which can in turn be converted to biodiesel. Students will grow different varieties of algae and analyse the impact of variables including different nutrients and light on their morphology, growth and on their consumption of CO2 and/or production of O2. Students studying chemistry may also be able to extract the lipids from algal biomass and produce biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a well-studied energy source increasingly being taken up by local communities as a way of becoming self-sufficient and enabling utilisation of waste products such as used cooking oil. This project involves growing algae that can be harvested for lipids, which are in turn converted to biodiesel. We will also look at the morphology and growth profiles of a range of algae under different nutrient and stress conditions and use sensors for environmental monitoring.


Learnings: Students will examine At least two class periods of 1-2 hours each is required. variables such as species, temperature, light, and culture medium for the growth of algae. Results will be recorded using sensors. Students will explore the biology of algae. Upper secondary students will be able to integrate their knowledge of organic chemistry and chemical reactions during the project. Students will also consider the role algae play in sustainability, including for a circular economy.

Requirements: At least one hour/week for around 3-4 weeks will be required.

Follow us

Acknowledgment of Country
Macquarie University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the Macquarie University land, the Wallumattagal clan of the Dharug nation - whose cultures and customs have nurtured, and continue to nurture, the land since Dreamtime.