Environmental Chemistry and Climate Resilience Engineering Research Group

Our research focuses on the use of engineering solutions for the real-world problems that climate change can cause. These include environmental impacts of extreme weather events, resilient water supply and sustainable remediation of land and water.

Our focus

Our researchers are unlocking innovative engineering solutions for the impacts of climate change within focus areas including:

  • urban stormwater management
  • solar farm efficiency and soil and water appraisal
  • dust storm mitigation through integrated catchment management
  • post-fire affected catchment remediation for water resources
  • performance of geo-carbon sequestration
  • heavy metal speciation
  • air pollution
  • stormwater engineering for extreme rainfall events
  • management and reuse options for residuals from water and wastewater treatment
  • groundwater induced recharge and restoration
  • drought-resilient water supplies
  • industrial water use.

Research areas

Environmental impacts of extreme weather events

Australia is becoming hotter and drier. Fires and droughts are increasing in frequency and severity and, although annual rainfall is expected to reduce, we are seeing more short and intense extreme rainfall events that often lead to localised flooding. Extreme weather events can dramatically alter the chemical and physical properties of soils and waters.

Our team can help landholders understand the implications for soil and water quality, including contaminant and nutrient transport and loading. Our current research focuses on soil mineralogical changes during bushfires and the resulting increase in mobility of heavy metals. The team also has expertise in catchment management and stormwater engineering, assisting landholders, developers, and local councils in water management for extreme rainfall events.

Drought-resilient water supplies

Managing water supplies during drought not only needs a versatile portfolio of water resources, but a complete demand management to extend from domestic and industrial to agricultural and environmental requirements. Drought-resilient water supplies can be in the form of desalination, water reuse, recycling and aquifers. Water supplies from underground have many advantages including: no losses due to evaporation, the availability of local aquifers in many regions, and they provide modular asset development opportunities. It is typically less expensive to use local groundwater than to pipe, pump and treat water sourced from outside the region. However, groundwater supplies must be used in a sustainable manner.

Our current research focuses on determining the sustainability of aquifers for supplying water for town water, irrigation and baseflow to rivers. We couple advanced pore pressure analysis methods, using passive and inexpensive techniques, with innovative ground-testing methods and sensor systems to better understand the scale of aquifer resources. We also use water tracer technologies for investigating recharge, mixing and aquifer interaction.

Reducing the water footprint of primary industries

While mining and agriculture are major pillars of the Australian economy, they're also among the most water-intensive industries. Our team works with partners of all sizes, from major mining companies to local dairies, to understand their water needs and design strategies to reduce water consumption and reuse water where possible.

Examples of our current research include the design of innovative filtration systems to increase cleaning efficiency for wastewater, development of novel additives to reduce the amount of water in mine tailings, and intelligent design of irrigation systems to minimise water requirements. Where industry relies on groundwater and surface water sources, our team can also use environmental tracers to understand connectivity between natural water sources to prevent unintended negative consequences (both environmental and geotechnical).

Sustainable remediation of land and water

Working with nature to remediate degraded land and water is more likely to lead to long-term, resilient outcomes. Our team has expertise in the remediation of acid sulfate soils, acid mine drainage, and associated metal contamination using passive strategies including reactive barrier technology and controlled inundation. We also work to improve the condition of degraded soils, with current research evaluating the performance of biochar as a soil conditioner to improve water retention and to sequester carbon from organic waste in a circular economy. For waterways with elevated concentrations of nutrients and/or metals, our current research uses industrial by-products such as plant or food wastes and water treatment plant sludges to develop effective water treatment solutions that contribute to the circular economy and prevent additional waste.

Group members

Researchers

Name Research interests
Dr Negin AminiMineral processing, selective separation of particles, behaviour of powders & agglomerates, 3D printing using non-traditional substrates
Professor Bas Baskaran Urban water management, industrial water management,
water recovery and reuse
Associate Professor Lloyd Chua Water quality modelling and monitoring, rainfall run-off modelling, watershed management and water resources engineering
Dr Nick Milne Wastewater treatment, wastewater management, management of salinity in regional areas, decentralised water treatment, water management in remote location
Dr Ellen Moon Heavy metals in the environment, mineral formation and transformation, metal-(bio)mineral interface chemistry, acid sulfate soils/acid rock drainage, hydrometallurgy
Dr Svetlana StevanovicAir quality engineering, air sampling design, aerosols, bioaerosols, instrument design, occupational health
Professor Wendy TimmsPorous earth engineering, ground water, void water management, water and energy sustainability, organic wastes and soil interactions, sustainable systems

PhD students

Name Thesis topic
Sirjana Adhikari Biochar: carbon sequestration, soil water retention and life cycle assessment
Shashini FernadoPerformance of constructed wetlands for stormwater runoff containing metals
Devmi Kukulasuriya Water tracer technologies to optimise water management in underground mines
Deepak Mallya Application of thin film nanocomposite membrane for removal of natural organic matter
Vaughan MitchellAssessing water quality risk in water distribution systems affected by bushfires
Minh Duc Nguyen Beneficial reuse of sludge from water treatment processes
Nusrat Rezwana Binte RazzakInvestigation of the conversion potential of organic waste into biological activated carbon (BAC) to remove contaminants from water
Shagun Shagun Developing an integrated model for the transportation of gross pollutant in urban catchment
Maryam Shirdashtzadeh Variation of bacterial communities with water quality in urban catchments

Projects

Funded projects

  • ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling eco-efficient beneficiation of minerals (2020–2026), Australian Research Council, $1,368,052
  • National groundwater recharge observing system ARC LIEF – Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities Program (2022), $42,479
  • Victorian sustainable water yields (2021–2022), DELWP, $50,000
  • Water tracer tools – optimisation of water management for underground mines (2019–2020), Australian Coal Research Program (Category 1), $296,100
  • Simulation of urban floods using spatially distributed rainfall derived from weather radar (2019–2020), Australian Academy of Science, $27,000
  • Investigating the homogeneity, thickness and fouling sensitivity of the plasma-synthesized polymer blend thin films for low-cost desalination (2018–2020), AINSE Postgraduate Research Awards, $12,500
  • Monitoring and modelling of stormwater runoff quality and treatment performance within constructed WSUD assets – using novel sampling and analysis techniques (2017–2020), City of Greater Geelong, $59,088
  • Maximising on-farm irrigation profitability – Southern connected system (2016–2018), Cotton Research and development Corporation, $750,000

Contact us

For more info about our research, contact Dr Ellen Moon.

Interested in researching with us? Contact a researcher listed above to discuss a potential topic of interest.

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