Science and Engineering

Environmental technologies

Overview

What are environmental technologies?

Our research aims to advance knowledge to develop new materials and green technologies for environmental remediation and monitoring, with a focus on air, water and soil quality monitoring for:

  • environmental and health impact assessment
  • pollution modelling
  • adverse effects of environmental pollutants on climate.

Our research applications include:

  • environmental remediation and pollution control
  • clean transportation and fuels, including electric vehicles
  • reparation and purification
  • carbon capture and sequestration
  • sustainable resource utilisation, recovery and recycling
  • technological and economic sustainability including system integration and whole-life-cycle value chain analysis
  • bioprocessing and waste valorisation to energy and chemicals
  • recovering hazardous waste and turning it into useful materials
  • uncovering the effects of aerosols on the climate
  • the physio-chemical characterisation of air pollutants.

Facilities

Our researchers work in a range of world-class research facilities, including:

Rankings

Our research has made significant contributions to the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ratings achieved by QUT:

  • 5 (well above world standard) in materials engineering, macromolecular and materials chemistry
  • 4 (above world standard) in physical chemistry (including structural chemistry), environmental engineering and environmental sciences and management.

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) evaluates the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.

Projects

The Category 1 funded and major research projects we are currently leading are:

Secondary aerosol formation from engine exhaust emissions

Leaders
Professor Zoran Ristovski, Dr Branka Miljevic, Professor Richard Brown, Dr Svetlana Stevanovic.
Grant scheme
ARC Discovery Project
Dates
2018-2021
Project summary

This project aims to investigate the role of reactive volatile organic compounds from vehicles using alternative fuels in the formation and evolution of secondary organic aerosols (SOA). Expected outcomes include a greatly improved understanding of the mechanisms and precursors of SOA formation. The benefits should provide the knowledge needed to set vehicle emission regulations that can properly control urban air pollution episodes because the mechanisms and precursors of its formation will be better understood.

The project will also provide an experimental framework that will guide policy formulation and provide the science needed for development of strategies to improve air quality and health.

A portable multiplexed sensing platform for the rapid stand-off detection of chemical hazards and concealed explosives

Leaders
Professor Godwin Ayoko, Associate Professor Esa Jaatinen, Dr Emad Kiriakous.
Grant scheme
Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge: an initiative of Defence’s Next Generation Technologies.
Dates
2018-2021
Project summary

Researchers from QUT, Flinders Universities and the department of defence science and technology (DST) will build a miniaturised laser based dual sensing capability that can safely identify hidden chemical threats from a standoff distance and provide information about their molecular structure.

The new capability will contribute to safeguarding the Australian public, Defence personnel and sensitive infrastructure.

State-of-the-art air quality sensing network for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018: engaging the community and showcasing QUT as a global leader in innovative technologies

Leaders
Professor Lidia Morawska, Dr Matthew Dunbabin, Associate Professor Dian Tjondronegoro, Dr Rohan Jayaratne, Dr Phong Thai .
Grant scheme
QUT Engagement Innovation Grant
Dates
2017-2018
Project summary

This project aims to establish and operate a state-of-the-art miniature air quality sensing network at and around the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games village and provide real time, visualised communication of the monitoring data.

This collaboration with the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) and Southport State High school students from will showcase, literally to the world, QUT’s advancement in this cutting edge technology, engagement of the public in air quality considerations in South East Queensland. It will also deliver a highly valued STEM learning experience for secondary students.

Establishing advanced networks for air quality sensing and analyses

Leaders
Professor Lidia Morawska, Professor Godwin Ayoko, Professor Zoran Ristovski, Dr Phong Thai.
Grant scheme
ARC Linkage Project
Dates
2016-2019
Project summary

This project aims to develop innovative, cost-effective, high-resolution air quality networks. Recent developments in sensor technologies improve the ability to harvest atmospheric data. This project will develop, validate and implement methods for high sensitivity atmospheric sensing and apply cutting-edge statistical and analytic techniques to the data sets, unprecedented in scope and resolution.

Outcomes include an open access database to quantify and visualise intra-urban air pollution and human exposure and develop air quality maps and smoke pollution management tools.

Reducing carbon dioxide to useful products using solar energy

Leader
Dr Jingsan Xu
Dates
2016-2019
Project summary

The project aims to develop novel photocatalysts for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful products using solar energy. The project also plans to identify the photocatalytic mechanisms of the catalysts by investigating the reaction systems, such as the interface morphology, structure coherence and energy alignment of the component phases and reactant. Innovative technologies in the field of sunlight-driven photocatalysis have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Great Barrier Reef as a significant source of climatically relevant aerosol particles

Leader
Professor Zoran Ristovski
Dates
2015-2017
Project summary

Every cloud drop is formed from a microscopic aerosol particle, known as a cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). In unpolluted environments the CCN particles originate from biogenic sources. Determining the magnitude and driving factors of biogenic aerosol production in different ecosystems is crucial to the development and improvement of climate models.

This project aims to determine the mechanisms of new particle production from one of the biggest ecosystems in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. It is expected that the project will establish whether marine aerosol along the Queensland coast is coral-derived and show that this aerosol can affect the CCN concentration and therefore cloud formation and the hydrological cycle.

Acid mine drainage as a new metal resource

Leader
Dr Sara Couperthwaite
Dates
2014-2017
Project summary

The major issue of mining is the enormous amounts of waste rock and tailings that require disposal in lined dams and the potential of acid mine drainage occurring upon exposure of the waste materials to air and water. This research aims to develop a treatment process that not only produces water for beneficial use or discharge but also to concentrate the valuable metals in the treatment sludge to a point that they become economically viable to recover.

This project will reduce the environmental impact of mining in Queensland along with off-setting treatment costs with the recovery of valuable metals as well as minimising waste disposal.

Are you looking to further your career by pursuing study at a higher and more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research a number of topics within a range of broad themes.

There are topics relevant to students who would like to pursue:

  • PhD study
  • Research masters
  • Research project (part of masters by coursework or undergraduate project unit).

Air quality and health, new detection methods and environmental remediation

Our discipline hosts the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (ILAQH), which offers opportunities for research in the complex, interdisciplinary field of air quality and its impact on human health, with a specific focus on ultrafine and nanoparticles.

Current topics include:

  • application of mobile phone technologies for health risk assessments
  • airborne infection spread
  • effect of environmental ions and charged particles on human health
  • diesel exhaust emissions
  • analysis of personal exposure to ultrafine particles
  • effect of biofuels on urban air quality
  • source apportionment of air pollutants
  • real-time mass spectrometric characterisations of air pollutants
  • physico-chemical characterisations of air pollutants.

Find a supervisor in this research theme:

Partnerships

Some of our industry and community partners include:

National

Australian tertiary institutions

Our researchers collaborate with staff from many Australian universities, especially:

Research institutes

Hospitals

International

Europe

Asia and Oceania

Contact

School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering

  • Level 7, O Block, Room 703
    Gardens Point