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My main area of expertise is Environmental Engineering. One area of my research focuses on recovering useful components from wastewater including nutrient and energy via biogas. I am also involved in a number of projects which are developing new biotechnologies for waste treatment.
The majority of my teaching is in project based learning courses for Engineering and Food Technology students. I enjoy using different teaching and assessment techniques. Recently this has also included developing engaging online content which encourages active learning. When possible, I publish my findings in Engineering Education journals.
Many of the projects I am working on are confidential as they have industrial partners. Below are some examples of previous projects where the findings have been published.
Previous Project: How do we trigger algae to be greedy for phosphorus?
We have problems with too much phosphorus in our waterways but at the same time phosphorus is a nutrient that we are running out of. Currently large amounts of money are spent on removing phosphorus from wastewater without considering how we might be able to reuse this resource.
Imagine if algae could be 'triggered' on demand to suck up large quantities of phosphorus from domestic, agricultural and industrial effluents. Algae can at times store phosphorus but there's a catch - we don't know how to reliably trigger this phenomenon. This research determined the environmental, process and biological conditions which 'trigger' phosphorus storage at an individual algal cell scale. A new process was proposed and initial results look promising.
This project is funded by the Marsden Fund. To see more about this project take a look at this episode of Global Radar (at about 19 minutes along)
Previous Project: Recovering energy from waste
There are many high energy wastes which could be used to produce energy via anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas high in methane which can then be used to produce heat and electricity using co-generation. This project involved surveying a range of wastes available and determining the right mix to use in the digesters. Anaerobic digesters use microorganisms to produce the biogas and they are quite sensitive to their environment so just the right mixture of ‘food’ is needed.
Another part of this project was to develop a new technology to allow anaerobic digestion of some of the more difficult waste products to digest. This involved laboratory studies and pilot scale work.
This project was funded by the Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund.
Resource Development and Management
Field of research codes
Chemical Engineering (090400): Engineering (090000): Environmental Engineering (090700): Wastewater Treatment Processes (090409)
Project Title: Establishing the engineering fundaments of a new algae based phosphorus removal process
Date Range: 2012 - 2016
Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full