Cristian Birzer

Dr Cristian Birzer

Senior Lecturer

School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Cris Birzer MIEAust CPEng is a Chartered Professional Mechanical Engineer and Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Energy Engineering and Humanitarian Engineering at the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Cris is the Director of the Humanitarian and Development Solutions Initiative (HDSI). He is a former consultant engineer and also member of the Australian Defence Force, having worked in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, and the 2019/2020 Australian Bushfire Response. Cris also deployed to Nepal with the World Food Programme to assist with the 2015 Earthquakes emergency response.

 

Dr Cris Birzer’s research focuses on the development of humanitarian technologies for resource-constrained countries and regions. His motivation is to make complex engineering available and affordable to those who need it most, in order to help raise their quality of life, increase life expectancy, and reduce preventable deaths.

Early in his research career, Cris became aware of some key statistics: 3 billion people rely on solid-fuel (wood, dung, coal) burning stoves; and this results in 4 million people dying every year from respiratory-related illnesses. These facts led to the ‘cookstove project’.

Cris’s cookstove research includes using state-of-the-art laboratories to understand the complex nature of solid-fuel combustion in order to design new cookstoves with increased fuel-efficiency and reduced harmful emissions production.

An early prototype cookstove design from the research group reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 90% when compared to traditional cooking procedures. The prototype, which can be made from scrap material at minimal cost, can also produce bio-char (a soil enhancer) as a by-product.

Other projects that Cris and his research team (the Humanitarian and Development Solutions Initiative) have developed include water treatment, sanitation and power generation systems. This research can help save millions of lives every year and improve the quality of life for billions.

Cris aims to provide essential knowledge (open-source where possible) and designs that can be implemented to ensure those who cannot afford high-tech products can still have high-quality lives. He and his team also focus on ensuring the designs they develop can be made locally, so that communities can build and maintain their own products, thus strengthening their economies.

“The ultimate goal of our research is to not be needed. We work with non-government organisations around the world to help implement the designs and products; we share the knowledge with anyone and everyone interested so they can implement the work; and we work towards building economies in regions where people earn less than $2 per day.”

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2015 - 2015 ETC Field Team Leader World Food Programme
    2012 - 2015 Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2010 - 2010 Consultant Engineer Vipac Engineers and Scientists
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2020 Award Best Paper Australasian Journal of Engineering Education Australasian Journal of Engineering Education Australia
    2020 Award Award for Engineering Education Engagement Australasian Association for Engineering Education Australia $2500
    2020 Honour Australian Defence Force Bronze Commendation Australian Defence Force Australia
    2016 Award ECMS Excellence in Teaching Award
    2014 Award SA Tall Poppy Award The Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) Australia
    2014 Award Prince of Wales Award (Defence) Australia
    2012 Achievement Young Professional Engineer of the Year (SA) Engineers Australia Australia
    2011 Achievement Finalist Advantage SA Young South Australian of the Year Australia
    2010 Achievement Young Mechanical Engineer of the Year Engineers Australia Australia
    2010 Honour Defence Long Service Medal Australian Defence Force Australia
    2009 Recognition PhD thesis commendation from the Dean of Graduate Studies University of Adelaide Australia
    2009 Fellowship ATSE Symposium Fellowship Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Australia
    2007 Honour Australian Service Medal - Solomon Islands II Australian Defence Force Australia
    2006 Honour Australian Defence Medal Australian Defence Force Australia
    2003 Honour Australian Active Service Medal - East Timor Australian Defence Force Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    The University of Adelaide Australia Grad. Cert. Environmental Policy and Management
    The University of Adelaide Australia BE (Mech)

 

$90,000 Pacific Islands energy, infrastructure, education and capacity building initiative
C.H. Birzer
DFAT - International Climate Change Engagement Grants (2021)
$16,000

Freeze drying related research for Asparagopsis armata
C.H. Birzer
Contract Research with CH4 South Australia Pty Ltd (2020)

$40,000 Pacific Islands energy, infrastructure, education and capacity building initiative
C.H. Birzer, M. Solis, M. Young, C. Matthews, R. Hill, R. West
Internal Funding (2019)
$20,000 Bio-fertilisers and biologically-produced methane from anaerobic digesters
P.R. Medwell, C.H. Birzer, S. Kidd, T. Cavagnaro, M. Indren
Waite Research Institute Funding (2019)
$99,000 Collaborative Humanitarian Engineering Practicum (Cambodia) (EWB)
C.H. Birzer, J. Smith, R. Wilkinson, E. Cheng
New Colombo Plan (2019-2022)
$353,100 Nepal: Community Building and Designing Disaster Resilient Futures (EWB)
E. Cheng, C.H. Birzer, J. Smith and R. Wilkinson
New Colombo Plan (2019-2022)
$247,500 Vietnam UN Sustainable Development Goal Study Tour (Unbound)
R. Wilkinson, C.H. Birzer and E. Cheng
New Colombo Plan (2019-2022)
$80,000 Investigation into the suitability of polymer meat conveyor belt materials for carbon dioxide pellet repeated cleaning with the respect to material properties and fatigue of materials used for conveyor belts
P.R. Medwell, C.H. Birzer
Contract Research Australian Meat Processor Corporation Ltd (via Cold Logic Pty Ltd) (2018)
$3,500 Investigation of energy efficiency increase using an oil treatment in NH3 refrigeration systems
C.H. Birzer
Contract Research Cold Logic Pty Ltd) (2018)
$32,284 Water Filtration System for Rajasthan: a crowdfunding campaign
C.H. Birzer, G. Drew, and S. Kidd
Crowdfunding Campaign (2017)
$60,000 Biodigesters: converting waste productions from industry and rural communities, into byproducts for profit and quality of life
C.H. Birzer, T. Cavagnaro, G. Drew, M. Hutchinson, S. Kidd, P.R. Medwell, V. Moore, P.J. van Eyk, W. Umberger
University of Adelaide, Interdisciplinary Fund (2017)
$30,000 Humanitarian Emergencies in a Digital World: big data, human networks and the role of situational awareness
A. Skuse, C.H. Birzer, H. Brown, M. Nursey-Bray, C. Szabo
University of Adelaide, Interdisciplinary Fund (2017)
$198,000 Working Towards Responsible Consumption and Production: Study of sustainable waste management in Timor-Leste (Project Everest)
C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2018-2020)
$148,500 Cambodian Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2018-2020)
$198,000 Integrated Humanitarian Engineering Practicum (Nepal) (EWB)
J. Smith and C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2018-2020)
$13,550 The Green Academic: towards sustainable academic travel and the University of Adelaide
M. Nursey-Bray, C.H. Birzer, T. Wanner, R. Palmer, S. Roder
University of Adelaide, Ecoversity Green Project Fund
$66,000 Malaysian Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2017)
$66,000 Indian Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
G. Jackman, C.H. Birzer and K. Pope
New Colombo Plan (2017)
$55,000 New Solutions for Air Quality and Old Development Challenges: Biochar Technology
C.H. Birzer, T. Cavagnaro, S. Kidd, P. Kwong, P.R. Medwell, P.J. van Eyk, W. Umberger
University of Adelaide, Interdisciplinary Fund (2016)
$33,000 Nepal Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2016)
$158,100 Gas Pipeline blowdown: Characteristics of natural gas pipeline blowdown in remote areas
N.L. Smith, A. Mimani, A.C. Zander, P.J. Ashman, C.H. Birzer, P.R. Medwell, T. Lau, B.S. Cazzolato
Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (2015)
$45,000 Indian Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
C.H. Birzer
New Colombo Plan (2015)
$21,500 Cambodian Humanitarian Design Summit (EWB)
C.H. Birzer
Asia-Bound Short Term Engineering and Related Technology n.e.c.12692  (2015)
$30,000 Establishment of a Humanitarian Technology Research Group Research Facility
C.H. Birzer, P.R. Medwell, P.J. Ashman, K. Davey, C. Thomas
University of Adelaide, Research Support Scheme (2015)
$30,000 Reuse Residual Heat & Energy Harvesting
P.R. Medwell; C.H. Birzer
Contract Research Electrolux Australia (2012)
Courses Delievered

Current

  • Systems Engineering and Industrial Practice (Mech Eng Level 3, Mech Eng Masters): from 2021
  • Introduction to Engineering (Engineering Level 1): 2020-2021

Future

  • Renewable Power Technologies (Mech Eng Level 4, Mech Eng Masters): from 2022
  • Introduction to Humanitarian Engineering (Engineering Level 4): from 2022

Past

  • Renewable Fluid Power Technology (Mech Eng Level 4, Mech Eng Masters): 2013-2020
  • Sustainability and the Environment (Mech Eng Level 3, Mech Eng Masters): 2013-2020
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 Principal Supervisor Understanding the effect of biochar on the reduction of hydrogen sulphide in biogas from a biodigester Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ben Ashleigh Collins
    2018 Principal Supervisor Pico-Scale to Small-Scale Hydropower Implementation in Nepal Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Matthew Lawrence Toole
    2016 Principal Supervisor Characterisation of Biochar for Environmental Mitigations Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Benjamin Morton
    2011 Co-Supervisor Targeted Unmixing of Particles in Suspension Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Mei Chiin Cheong
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Parameters affecting biodigester performance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Mathu Indren
    2016 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Top-lit up-draft cook stove development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Thomas Kirch
    2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Ember Formation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Houzhi Wang
    2013 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Investigation of Dynamic Stall on Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Ryan Ross Leknys
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Enhanced Mixing Via Lateral Injection Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Thomas Xiong Thong
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  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2019 - ongoing Board Member Project Everest Ventures Project Everest Ventures Australia
    2017 - 2018 Board Member Mechanical College Board Engineers Australia
    2014 - 2018 Member Journal of Humanitarian Engineering Engineers Without Borders Australia Australia
    2012 - 2012 Treasurer International Young Professional Foundation International Young Professional Foundation Australia
    2011 - 2012 Board Member International Young Professional Foundation International Young Professional Foundation Australia
    2011 - 2011 Chair International Young Professional Foundation International Young Professional Foundation Australia
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing Member Humanitarian Engineering College of Practice Engineers Australia Australia
    2016 - ongoing Member ISO/PC 305 National Mirror Committee: WS-040 Sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems Standards Australia Australia
    2015 - 2017 Member SA Government Aboriginal Employment Infrastructure Cluster SA Government Aboriginal Employment Infrastructure Cluster Australia
    2015 - 2016 Representative Congress Representative Engineers Australia Australia
    2015 - ongoing Member ISO/TC 285 National Mirror Committee: EE-003 Clean Cookstoves Standards Australia Australia
    2014 - 2019 Member College of Leadership and Management - SA Division Engineers Australia Australia
    2014 - 2015 President South Australian Division Committee Engineers Australia Australia
    2013 - 2013 Vice-President South Australian Division Committee Engineers Australia Australia
    2011 - 2017 Member South Australian Division Committee
    2011 - 2012 Chair Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Australia
    2009 - 2010 Vice-Chair Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Australia
    2002 - 2003 Chair Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Young Engineers Australia - SA Division Australia
    2002 - 2002 Member South Australian Division Committee Engineers Australia Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2008 - ongoing Member Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief
    1999 - ongoing Engineers Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2014 - ongoing Associate Editor Journal of Humanitarian Engineering Engineers Without Borders Australia Australia
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83133148
  • Email: cristian.birzer@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4367
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Engineering South, floor 3
  • Room: 3 06
  • Org Unit: School of Mechanical Engineering

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