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Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Group

Water resources and environmental engineering research is an integrated study encompassing a variety of technologies utilised in providing sustainable water supply for potable, agricultural, industrial and recreational use, reuse and disposal of effluent water with minimal environmental footprint. Water is not just fundamental to life but supports most human day-to-day activities.

Our research interests include studying flow behaviour; identifying sustainable water resources; investigating the three-way co-dependency of water quality on human activities and environmental factors, prototype and numerical modelling of water systems; tackled by collaborations with interdisciplinary expertise in related research fields. Available to the Group is a wide range of advanced equipment such as a recirculating flume, 3D Acoustic Doppler, Laser Doppler and Particle Image Velocimeters, optical air entrainment probes, water quality sampler, dissolved air floatation, adsorption, anaerobic water treatment, advanced oxidation, biofilm process, depth filtration as well as precipitation and flocculation systems. We encourage enquiries from students and researchers wishing to pursue research activities in our research group. We also welcome enquiries from industry seeking solutions or collaborations in relevant research areas through research and development.

Research Themes

Water Resources

Water resources research can address the sustainable use of water, particularly, the retention of adequate water to maintain system integrity and environmental benefits. It is critical to develop full understanding of water flows, stores and their interactions over time to estimate what sustainable surplus flows may be available for different users as both sources and systems may change in the future (climate change or future developments).

Water and Wastewater

This includes various processes and technologies involved in the movement and treatment of both water and wastewater. Treatment includes abstraction or conversion of dissolved, colloidal or particulate inert and biological matter to produce water of a quality suitable for use or disposal. Continuous investigations aim to optimise existing processes or research novel technologies to improve removal efficiency, energy efficiency and/or overall process sustainability. Another aspect is the harvest and reuse of stormwater with particular focus on the interaction of drainage systems with the environment to monitor contamination which will, in turn, minimise the intensity of treatment required before re-use.

Desalination

Co-generation of water and power is a pioneer technology based on the combination of a desalination system with a power cycle. In such integrated systems, a power plant provides energy for desalination. The advantage of integrated systems is more effective energy consumption making desalination more practical. Studies on process optimization also investigate separation techniques such as flash spray and pool evaporation. Experimental research targeting the development of combined desalination with thermal power system, increasing overall process performance and equipment efficiency, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and improving environmental impact with respect to green technology approach will improve the desalination process.

Water Quality

Water quality research involves both testing and monitoring. Using state-of-the-art technologies, various water characteristics can be tested with high levels of accuracy.Water quality monitoring is necessary to achieve better understanding of the relationship that exists in an ecosystem between natural environmental processes and determine the extent of the impact of human activities. This can be achieved by improving existing measurement techniques or developing integrated systems of water quality testing and monitoring.

Air-water Flows

Transport of water in open channels as well as in partially filled conduits encourages interaction with the free surface resulting in a two-phase flow system. Air-water flows are associated with plunging water jets, self-aerating open channels such as hydraulic jumps in rivers, hydraulic structures such as spillways, dams, weirs, as well as partially filled conduits in wastewater treatment. Often water engineers must strike a balance between maintaining adequate oxygen levels and damaging hydraulic structures. By conducting measurements and visualising air entrainment in a wide range of applications, comprehensive understanding of two-phase flows can be attained.

Turbulent Flows

Most hydraulic engineering applications involve turbulent flow characterized by volatile behaviour, strong mixing properties and a wide range of velocity fluctuations. Turbulence in water resources finds application in flow mixing such as chemicals for water and wastewater treatments but can also have adverse effects such as scouring. Since turbulence often exists in conjunction with air entrainment and sedimentation, it is a challenge to design experiments to improve understanding of flow behaviour under such conditions. Various techniques such as flow visualisation, turbulence measurements as well as two-phase flow measurements are influential in understanding turbulence.

Contact

If you are interested in applying to ECU and want to discuss a specific project proposal in water resources and environmental engineering, contact:

Associate Professor Mehdi Khiadani
T: (61 8) 6304 5825 E: m.khiadani@ecu.edu.au

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