Research Projects

Olfactory characterisation of odours for optimising impact assessment

ARC Discovery project aims to apply a range of pattern recognition techniques, from simple statistical to chemometric analysis techniques in order to optimise the chemical characterisation of odorous emissions.

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Optimal management of corrosion and odour problems in sewer systems

ARC Linkage project aims to develop a thorough understanding of all processes leading to odour and corrosion in sewers, along with efficient methods of control. There will be a large focus on the optimisation and characterisation of existing technologies, as well as development of effective novel solutions. The project is collaborative project between University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle and University of Sydney.

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Interdisciplinary greenhouse gas assessment – nitrous oxide emissions from marine wastewater disposal

This ARC Discovery project will apply a combination of field surveys, laboratory experiments, hydrodynamic modelling and life cycle assessment methods to address a key knowledge gaps in our current understanding of full life cycle N2O emissions from wastewater management practices.  This research will facilitate more accurate assessments of the international water sector’s ‘carbon footprint’ and will ultimately enable sustainable management of the sector on a global scale

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PhD Projects

Performance and transformation of odorants in odour abatement systems

PhD Student: Bei Wang

Funding: Chinese Scholarship Council

Odorous emissions are a major issue for sewage system operators because the repeated release of unpleasant odours can cause significant annoyance to local receptors. A combination of chemical and olfactory techniques will be used to acquire detailed data on composition and treatability of odorants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in odour abatement systems. The outcomes will significantly enhance the design and choice of odour treatment systems through a better understanding of the fate of odorants and VOC removal in different odour abatement configurations.


Transformation of sulfur compounds in odour sampling

PhD Student: Hung Viet Le

Funding: Poultry CRC

The impact of odour emissions from poultry production operations on nearby communities has increased in recently years, particularly with the ongoing erosion of existing buffer zones by residential encroachment. While a wide range of odorants have been reported from these facilities, traditionally odour assessment has only a focus on the use of H2S and odour concentrations for odour impact assessment. The degradation of the labile volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSCs) in odour assessment is poorly understood and due to their odour threshold concentration could be the dominant odorants in terms of annoyance. Laboratory and field based studies will determine the transformation/degradation and losses of VOSC during the sample handling and storage / transportation of odorous emissions. The outcomes will significantly enhance our understanding of the composition of VOSC odorants from poultry operation in order to improve odour management practices.  

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 Other Projects

Non-Invasive (Breath Analysis) Medical Diagnostic Assessment

Interdisciplinary/Cross faculty collaboration with Professor Paul Thomas (UNSW School of Medicine and Prince of Wales Hospital and Dr Ju Lee Oui (Royal Women’s Hospital)

The utilization of high sensitivity and resolution gas phase analysis techniques permits the non-invasive assessment of chemical species (VOC, VONC and VOSC) within the expiration of humans. Different metabolic pathways produce different chemicals; these can be used to identify potential homeostatic imbalances. Poor oral hygiene has been linked with a number of preventable medical conditions; of significance is the link between a pregnant mother’s oral health and premature births and subsequent health of the neonate. The intrinsic simplicity and non-invasive nature of the sampling procedure could potentially provide cost effective and reliable analysis for a number of medical conditions that traditionally required expensive and often invasive tests. Preliminary work has focused on the reliability of sampling techniques, with promising results. Further work will aim to identify key chemical compounds that can be directly related to different metabolic pathways and homeostasis.  


Indoor Environmental Quality and occupant productivity in large commercial buildings

Interdisciplinary/Cross faculty collaboration with Professor Deo Prasad (UNSW faculty of Built Environment)

Most people spend 90% of their time indoor either at home or at work. In a commercial building up to 80% of the expenses incurred can be in the form of salary to the building occupants, rest being the expense for running the building in terms of energy, utility, security, maintenance and other costs. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) has thus become an active area of research with a focus on making buildings more environmentally sustainable and making them more efficient in terms of reduced use of resources and improved productivity of the building occupants.  Our focus of indoor air quality research involves assessing the indoor emissions of chemical species, measurement of thermal comfort and ventilation parameters, pattern of resource use and how these affect the productivity of the occupants. Our capabilities include ability to measure physical parameters like VOCs, gases and trace chemicals present in the indoor environment, carry out questionnaire based occupant perception of the indoor enclosures they occupy, engineering assessments of mechanical systems that affect the indoor environment, development of commercial building management systems and application of statistical tools to assess potential for improvement in productivity of commercial buildings. Our recent work has established that vast potential exists for improved productivity in commercial buildings in Australia.


Extractive Membrane Bioreactor Treatment of Hydrogen Sulfide 

Interdisciplinary/Cross faculty collaboration with Dr Pierre Le-Clech (UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology, School of Chemical Engineering) 

Novel extractive membrane bioreactor for treatment of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in biogas: Treatment of waste gas (including biogas) and removal of H2S is a crucial step before the potential transport and combustion of this renewable energy. Given the limitations of current technologies, this project proposes a novel treatment process based on the bioremediation of H2S within a biofilm attached on membranes. The novelty of the research is based on the coupling of wastewater bioreactor with tailored-made membrane to optimise mass transport, selectivity, and biofilm formation. Advanced characterisation techniques are also been applied to provide detailed modelling of H2S transport and biodegradation within biofilm/membrane systems.