Development of multifunctional nanocomposite materials for water treatment

In recent decades, the growth of industrial activity and increasing water usage worldwide have led to the release of various pollutants into the aquatic environment. Heavy metals are hardly biodegradable and lead to deleterious health effects on aquatic life due to their tendency to be accumulated in living organisms. This leads to more stringent regulations about heavy metal concentration, and toxic and carcinogenic heavy metals are regarded as priority water contaminant. Another water contaminant is trace-level organic contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and potential endocrine disrupting compounds, etc. that have been detected in aquatic environments such as surface waters, wastewater, runoff, and landfill leachates.

This project aims to develop a multifunctional nanocomposite material composed of silver-exchanged zeolite/carbon nanocomposite for water treatment, which is able to adsorb heavy metal ions and trace organic contaminants, and even kill microorganisms at the same time from a single step process. Detailed studies will be carried out to evaluate how the chemical structure of a pollutant affects its removal performance, but also to understand the mechanism responsible for removal of that particular pollutant. The effect of water chemistry conditions such as pH, ionic strength and concentration of natural organic matter, towards the removal performance of each contaminant will be investigated.

International candidates need to obtain a Master degree in materials science, chemistry, or, industrial chemistry,and chemical engineering; however outstanding 4thundergraduate students with relevant research experience are encouraged to apply. Local candidates should ideally possess a 1st class honours; however holders of high level 2nd class honours degree with competent research experience are encouraged to apply.

For further information regarding the project and application process, please contact Professor Rose Amal (r.amal@unsw.edu.au).