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Energy Divisions

CSIRO’s current energy research has evolved from six sources:

  • the CSIR Coal Survey Section
  • a section of the Division of Mineral Chemistry
  • the Engineering Section
  • part of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission
  • a section of the Division of Mineralogy
  • the Physical Technology Unit

The Coal Survey Section was established in 1948. It was renamed the Coal Properties Section in March 1949 and then the Coal Research Section two months later. In 1960 it became the Division of Coal Research which in 1967 was incorporated into the Division of Mineral Chemistry.

In 1975, a section of the Division of Mineral Chemistry broke away to form the Division of Process Technology. In 1977, the Division of Process Technology was joined by part of the Division of Mineralogy, to form the Fuel Geoscience Unit, which in 1980 became the Division of Fossil Fuels. In April 1979 the Physical Technology Unit, whose research was oriented towards the minerals field, split off from the Division of Textile Physics and was incorporated into the Division of Fossil Fuels in 1983-84.

Research on solar energy and thermal applications of solar energy including water heating was carried out in the CSIRO Central Experimental Workshops and its successors the Engineering Section and the Division of Mechanical Engineering from the 1950s onwards under the leadership of Roger Morse. When Morse retired as Chief in 1973 he became Director of the CSIRO Solar Energy Studies Unit established on 1 January 1974 to continue this research. The Unit closed with Morse’s retirement in 1978 the resources returning to the Division of Mechanical Engineering. The last was Morse’s most significant focus. His solar energy work started in 1952 leading to papers on the design and construction of solar water heaters including one he presented at the World Symposium on Applied Solar Energy in Phoenix Arizona in 1955. This work up to 1964 laid the technical foundation for the commercial manufacture of solar water heaters in Australia. By 1974 at CSIRO, he led a team of 100 engineers, scientists and technicians, some 40% of whom were engaged in Solar energy research and development, gaining international acclaim.

In 1981, part of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission transferred to CSIRO, as the Division of Energy Chemistry. In 1987 the Division of Energy Chemistry was split, with some sections forming the Division of Fuel Technology, and some sections joining the Division of Fossil Fuels to become the Division of Coal Technology. Existing for less than two years, the Division of Coal Technology merged with the Division of Fuel Technology in June 1990 to form the Division of Coal and Energy Technology. In 1995, the division was renamed the Division of Energy Technology (mark II).

An earlier division, also named Energy Technology, had existed at Highett, Victoria. Its origins were the CSIRO Central Experimental Workshops established in 1949 and renamed the Engineering Section in 1955. It became the Division of Mechanical Engineering in 1963 and was renamed the Division of Energy Technology in 1981. In 1988 it merged with the Division of Building Research to become the Division of Building, Construction and Engineering.

In 2014, in a major restructuring of CSIRO, the term Division was replaced by the term Flagship for the organization’s operating units and the title Chief replaced by the title Director. The Division of Energy Technology (148 staff) and 191 staff (58%) from the Division of Earth Science and Resource Engineering were combined to create the Energy flagship. In 2015 the term Flagship was dropped by the Organization

History of Energy Divisions

History of Energy Divisions

Chief of Division/Officer-in-Charge

Division Chief
Coal Survey Section (1948-49) Horace Roy Brown (1948-49)
Coal Properties Section (1949) Horace Roy Brown (1949)
Coal Research Section (1949-60) Horace Roy Brown (1949-60)
Coal Research (1960-67) Horace Roy Brown (1960-67)
Process Technology (1975-80) Anthony Vernon Bradshaw (1975-80)
Fuel Geosciences Unit (1977-80) Geoffrey Hamlet Taylor (O-i-C 1977-1980)
Physical Technology Unit (1979-83) Ernest George Bendit (O-i-C 1979-83)
Fossil Fuels (1980-87) Anthony Vernon Bradshaw (1980-83)
Leung Sun (Ming) Leung (1984-86)
Central Experimental Workshops (1949-55) Roger Neill Morse (1949-55)
Engineering Section (1956-63) Roger Neill Morse (1956-63)
Mechanical Engineering Roger Neill Morse (1963-73)
Barry Rawlings (1975-81)
Solar Energy Studies Unit (1974-78) Roger Neill Morse (1974-78)
Energy Chemistry (1981-87) Peter George Alfredson (1981-1987)
Fuel Technology (1987-90) Peter George Alfredson (1987-1990)
Coal Technology (1987-90) Leung Sun (Ming) Leung (1987-1990)
Coal and Energy Technology (1990-95) Peter George Alfredson (1990-94)
John Wright (1994-95)
Energy Technology mark II (1995 -2014) John Wright (1995-2002)
Adrian Fredrick Williams (2002-03)
James Byer Smitham (Acting 2003)
David Brockway (2004-10)
Peter Mayfield (2010-14)

Sources

• Schedvin CB, Trace K, 1978, Historical Directory of CSIR and CSIRO 1926-1976, CSIRO Publishing.

Encyclopedia of Australian Science [external link]

• CSIRO Annual Reports

• CSIRO Communications