Professor Rita Henderson

"I lead the Algae and Organic Matter Laboratory (AOM Lab) which conducts research into technologies used in the treatment, characterisation and monitoring of water and wastewater processes, with a particular focus on nuisance and harmful microalgae and organic matter. In collaboration with the Australian water industry, our group looks at mitigating the increasing challenges posed by these pollutants to drinking water supplies. At the same time, the potential benefits that might be brought by using nature-based approaches incorporating algae to simultaneously treat wastewater while generating a high value, algal feedstock is also a key research interest. In my team, students work to combine a deeper understanding of the underlying physiological and physico-chemical properties of these dissolved, colloidal and particulate materials and their complex interactions with novel technologies, to advance and optimise solutions in both water treatment and biotechnology contexts."

Professor Pierre Le Clech

"During the last 5 years, we have collaborated with Water Corporation, the main water operator in Western Australia, to address the health risk associated with the presence and growth of Legionella (a dangerous pathogen) in their groundwater treatment processes. The aeration systems commonly used for water oxidation produce aerosols capable of carrying Legionella, which can be inhaled by local operators or nearly community members. Following an extensive series of plant visits, sampling and analysis, our UNSW research team has developed an advanced risk assessment, highlighting the various risk factors and complex interactions between them. The limitations of the current aeration systems were identified and used to design a new pilot, which has been operated for more than a year. The lessons learned from this trial resulted in a new set of design guidelines for the design, operation, maintenance and cleaning of the new generation of aeration devices. Our next steps are to assess the performance of the pilot after its relocation in a new site and to study the Legionella health risk in wastewater treatment plants."

Professor Greg Leslie

"Our work focusses on water management in industrial, municipal and agricultural applications including the use of water in the production of green hydrogen. The research team are engaged in a mix of experimental and computation projects. Our experimental work focuses on the removal of organics, nutrients and salts from municipal, agricultural and industrial wastewater by membranes, sorption and coagulation, as well as the removal of organic contaminants by advanced oxidation and the effects of oxidants on membrane processes.  Our numerical work uses computational methods including probability and techno-ecomonic methods to assess variations in efficiency and return investment in applications where water is the main input - including in hydrogen production. The team also uses computational fluid dynamics to simulate aeration patterns and residence time in membrane bioreactors and heat and mass transfer in advanced water treatment systems; our life cycle assessment modelling assesses the fate of phosphorous in centralised and decentralised wastewater treatment, while our use of machine learning methods helps correlate variations."

Associate Professor Kang Liang

"Part of my research revolves around the development of cost-effective unmanned sensors for monitoring the quality of water, air, and soil. One of the innovative approaches undertaken by our group involves incorporating nanomaterials into plants, effectively transforming them into living sensors. By leveraging the natural processes of water uptake and respiration in plants, these modified organisms can now detect pollutants and assess soil health. This groundbreaking research has significant implications in the field of smart farming, enabling close monitoring of soil nutrient levels without the need for human intervention. Consequently, it addresses critical food security concerns. Moreover, this research paves the way for advancements in environmental monitoring and waste management technologies, ultimately leading to a greener and more sustainable planet."

Professor Guangzhao Mao

"My laboratory applies seed-mediated nucleation and crystallisation for nanosensor manufacturing. Following my original discovery that nanoparticle seeds nucleate molecular crystals of confined geometry, our laboratory demonstrated the nanoconfinement concept using electrochemical crystallisation. Our research group now explores simple, low-cost electrochemical crystallisation for the precise deposition of charge-transfer complex nanowires directly on electronic sensor substrates. The nanowire assemblies and arrays detect gases of interest by electrochemical methods. We aim to provide fundamental understanding of seed-mediated crystallisation, a widely used but poorly understood industrial separation and purification process, for precise nanosensor deposition and assembly. In my recent work, I have identified key control parameters in electrocrystallisation to achieve precise nanowire deposition. I am collaborating with industrial partners to integrate her nanomanufacturing technology with MEMS devices for environmental, health, and safety applications involving gas sensors."