Skip to content
Resources > Latest News > Spotlighting our recent 2023 victoria events

Spotlighting our recent 2023 Victoria Events

To end the year with a bang, Victoria hosted the 2023 Gala Dinner and Awards Night.

Australian Water Association's 60th VIC Gala Dinner Celebrates Industry Excellence

The recent Victorian Gala event hosted by the Australian Water Association was an extraordinary celebration of both industry excellence and cultural richness. Held at the Sofitel in Melbourne CBD, the prestigious event, which is now in its 60th year, provided attendees an opportunity to network through meaningful engagement, and to celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals and companies in the industry through the Gala awards.

The event was a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues across the water sector, celebrating an industry that sets out to make a real difference.

The evening commenced with a culturally significant and profoundly moving Welcome to Country. The captivating performance, led by four remarkable women accompanied by an 8-year-old, radiated the spirit of the Wurundjeri people. Through traditional dances and soulful melodies, they not only greeted guests but also shared elements of the Wurundjeri language, leaving a lasting impression.

Victoria’s Minister for Water, Harriet Shing, delivered the opening address, with attendees later saying they felt inspired, reassured, and energised about the future of Victoria’s water management and vision for the industry's advancement.

The Gala awards are always a highlight of the annual events calendar in the water industry, and this year was no exception. The awards celebrated the strides made within the water industry through research, innovation, project delivery, and outstanding people.

Details of the award winners can be found here.

As attendees departed with a sense of fulfilment and inspiration, the Gala undoubtedly left a mark on all who attended.

Biochar 2 Batteries Project Wins Australian Water Association's VIC R&D Excellence Award

In a resounding endorsement of innovative research and sustainable technology, a consortium of Barwon Water, South East Water and The Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action, and other contributing parties, clinched the coveted Victorian R&D Excellence Award during the gala dinner in Melbourne.

The premise of the Biochar 2 Batteries project revolves around an ingenious application of biochar, an organic carbon-rich material derived from a blend of residential food, garden organic waste, and biosolids. Biochar 2 Batteries aims to assess the feasibility of using biochar in energy storage devices like Sodium Ion Batteries (Na-ion) and supercapacitors, thereby reducing reliance on graphite—a critical mineral commonly used in Lithium-Ion Batteries.

The significance of this breakthrough lies not only in its technical feasibility but also in its broader implications for the Australian water sector within the context of a rapidly expanding Circular Economy. By harnessing biochar's potential, this initiative seeks to unlock higher-value commercial applications, offering economic and environmental benefits to the water industry.

Deakin University's Battery and Innovation unit, led by Professor Maria Forsyth, conducted pivotal tests on biochar in Na-ion batteries. Encouragingly, certain 'biosolids derived biochars' demonstrated performance akin to current commercial anode materials, substantiating their feasibility and potential within energy storage systems.

Shaun Cumming, Barwon Water's Managing Director, emphasised the project's alignment with the development of the Regional Renewable Organics Network, which will produce biochar from organic waste, further cementing its role in the circular economy and mitigating climate change impacts.

Cumming expressed pride in contributing to Victoria's reputation as an innovation and research hub for sustainable technologies. He highlighted how repurposing organic waste into high-value biochar doesn't just reduce waste but transforms it into a valuable resource, thereby promoting a circular and new energy economy.

The Biochar 2 Batteries initiative stands as a testament to the Victorian water sector's role in shaping a sustainable future through innovative and purposeful endeavours.