Environmental engineering

Clean resource solutions for a sustainable future

There’s no doubt that human activity and industrial processes can have (and have had) devastating effects on our planet. As awareness increases on what this means for the future, so does the desperate call for change, for processes that respect the environment.

Environmental engineering identifies environmental problems, challenges them, and develops and tests effective solutions using an integration of science and engineering principles. The aim is to find acceptable and sustainable ways to work with natural environment and our precious resources.

Researchers at the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering are looking at many important areas, from advanced processes for delivering safe water to new high technologies for clean energy generation, storage and use, and carbon capture and storage.

Environmental Research at UNSW Chemical Engineering

Image of a membrane developed at UNESCO

Water shortage is a major issue across the world and, in particular, in Australia. One research centre is looking at new membrane technologies that are a cost effective alternative for delivering pure water and energy simultaneously.
Find out more.

100% efficient fuels with zero by-products?

Increasing the speed of chemical reactions has many industrial applications, but probably no application so important or relevant right now than the petroleum industry.

From synthesising petrochemicals to the production of biofuels and even the purification of gas from car exhaust, a faster reaction time will have many implications on purity, efficiency and waste.

Researchers at the School of Chemical Engineering are tackling this problem head on, using ‘in-situ’ tools to probe reaction mechanisms, mathematical models to optimise reaction mechanisms, and large scale chemical reactors.

The aim: to move towards 100% efficiency and zero by-products in the production of chemical feedstocks and the synthesis of fuels directly from sunlight.

One research centre, inspired by the photosynthetic processes in which light is converted into chemical energy by green plants, are using photocatalysts to mimic this natural process for the production of hydrogen.

Top left: electrochemical measurement, top right: H2 generation setup, bottom left: H2 evolution, bottom right: water splitting rig

Academic and research staff in this field

Andrew Dansie
Rita Henderson
Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh
Pierre Le-Clech
Greg Leslie
Kang Liang
May Lim
Mike Manefield
Guangzhao Mao

Related research centres and groups

Centre for Membrane Science and Technology






Particles and Catalysis Research Group


Process Control Group

Algae and organic matter laboratory unsw