Richard Thomson

Richard Thomson

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences


Current roles:

Business mentor:
University of Adelaide ThincLab (2017 - present);
Executive Partners Program, School of Business , UniSA (2018 - present);
Business SA (2017 - present).

Main areas of expertise are:
• Technical development
• Manufacturing/production at small and large scale
• Business management/ strategic planning
Areas of Interest:
• Moving concept to product
• Developing systems that apply renewables successfully and economically
• Creating meaningful strategic and tactical plans for business development

Previous roles:

Government Business Enterprise Directorships: 2001–1996
Chairman, Flinders Power Pty Ltd,
Director, SA Generation Corporation,

Public Company Directorships: 1996–1987
Director, Bridge Oil Ltd•
Director, Capital Energy NL
Director, Beach Petroleum NL
Director, Energy Equity Corporation Ltd
Chairman, Range Resources Ltd

Founding Chairman: Advisory Board– Barbara Hardy Centre; University of SA (2005)
Deputy Chairman: Advisory Board– Barbara Hardy Institute; University of SA (2010)
Chairman: Advisory Board– Barbara Hardy Institute; University of SA (2011-­2015)

Beasley Industries Pty Ltd Proprietor and Director; Solar thermal systems
Thomson Wagstaff Pty Ltd Proprietor and Director, Mining/exploration investment company
Australian Energy Advisors Pty Ltd Principal and Director; Consultancy embracing oil and gas economics, asset values, marketing, sales, production, exploration & transportation economics.

Drillsupport International Pty Ltd Proprietor; Designed, manufactured & operated remotely-­‐operated underwater vehicles

My interest is renewable energy. I previously owned a business that utilised solar thermal technology, and I considered undertaking research into concentrated solar power (CSP). However I started to think about other issues that face humanity such as waste, and the extra burdens that non-city dwellers face. So I decided to research biomass gasification as a means of addressing the multiple facets and creating a community based circular economy. There are several key requirements to be successful; the gasification process must be economic at relatively small scale, it needs to be able to use a range of wastes as feedstock and it must produce primarily just two products, syngas and char. The products can be used to locally to generate electricity, thermal energy (for heating or cooling) and a soil additive. To achieve this I am investigating the use of a ball-milled catalyst using char and iron to eliminate tar production. This catalyst would be environmentally benign and recyclable. 

External to the University I have another research project focussed on providing potable water to communities that do not have access to clean water. This involves a single solar panel that produces potable water from any water source, by solar distillation; a separate stream of hot water for sanitation use, and a modest amount of electricity to drive the pump, and provide electrical energy for lighting and phone charging. This is specifically targeted to rural communities that currently do not have access to potable water. 

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  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2020 Thomson, R., Kwong, P., Ahmad, E., & Nigam, K. (2020). Clean syngas from small commercial biomass gasifiers; a review of gasifier development, recent advances and performance evaluation. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.
    DOI

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