Research Seminar Series
Please contact the Seminar Series Coordinators if you have any queries regarding any upcoming events.
Tom Torrento, Link Building (J13) 108,
Golnoosh Torabian, Link Building (J13) 108,
Desalination of Coal Mine Wastewater Using High Performance Capacitive Deionisation
About the Speaker
Murat Cakici is a PhD candidate working under supervision of Associate Professor Zongwen Liu in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Recently, importance of water is increasing for Australian coal mining industry because of growing public concern over the impact of mining operations on the quality of available fresh water resources and environment. In addition, other reasons such as competing demands on water in arid/semi-arid locations, increasing regulatory regime, and climate change urge coal mine operators for innovative water management solutions. Therefore, most of the coal mine operators have adopted clean production (or low or no waste) concept and increased use of worked water. However, constant recycling of on-site waters can lower product quality and increase operation costs. An economical and efficient saline water remediation option could be the key for coal companies to meet their productivity targets. Reverse osmosis (RO) is one of the widely used and mature desalination technologies in Australia. But, issues such as requirement of high water pressures, short membrane life, extensive pre-treatment, and complexity of the system can make RO an expensive choice. Capacitive deionization (CDI) can be an alternative solution for desalination of salty water produced by coal mining because it does not require high pressure pumps and works with low voltage. In addition, the design of CDI has potential to act as a capacitor to recover most of the energy used for electro-sorption of ions. However, maximum amount of salt ions which can be adsorbed by the applied electrical field is a limiting factor for CDI and current commercial CDI units are only feasible for desalination of waters having relatively low salt concentration.
In this research, performance of commercial CDI electrodes was evaluated for feed waters with different salinity levels. Optimised conditions were used for CDI treatment of synthetic coal mine wastewater. Electro-sorption capacities of different electrode materials and effect of using ion exchange polymer coatings on electrodes were studied. Future work will focus on optimising synthesis conditions of binder-free electrode materials with high salt adsorption and evaluating their CDI performance. Finally, CDI system with enhanced electrodes will be applied for desalination of coal mine wastewater.
Molecular Biomimicry: From Genomic to Applied Bioinspired Materials
About the Speaker
Ali Miserez is a Faculty member in the School of Materials Science and Engineering and the School of Biological
Sciences at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. He graduated from EPFL with a PhD in
Materials Science and Engineering (2003) and a specialization in advanced metal/ceramic composites and
mechanics of materials. In 2004, he received a Swiss National Science Foundation post-doc fellowship and moved
to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he was affiliated with the Materials Department and
the Marine Science Institute. At UCSB, he expanded his research interest towards biological materials and
biomimetics. In 2009, he moved to NTU as an Assistant Professor, and in 2011 he was awarded the Singapore
National Research Foundation (NRF) Fellowship, a $3 Million individual research grant for early career scientists.
Dr. Miserez’s research is centered on revealing the molecular, physico-chemical, and structural principles from
unique biological materials, and on translating these designs into novel biomimetic synthesis strategies. His
research group is strongly cross-disciplinary, with molecular biologists, chemists, bio-physicists, and materials
scientists combining their expertise towards bioinspired engineering from various angles, including protein
biochemistry, extra-cellular tissue transcriptomic, polymer chemistry, biomimetic peptide design, biophysics, and
Living organisms are “green chemist” masters, producing multi-functional materials under benign environmental
conditions, with a limited amount of building blocks. Thus, they provide important lessons in eco-friendly and nanoscale
processing. Proteins constitute either the structural components of biological materials or the templates that
control the growth and self-assembly of inorganic components into complex hierarchical biocomposites. However,
a critical step in biomimetic engineering involves determining the primary protein sequences of naturally occurring
biomaterials, a challenge exacerbated by the lack of genomic data from many model organisms. Eventually, such
understanding provides lessons to design biomimetic materials by protein engineering or polymer chemistry
strategies, with broad potential in biomedical applications. In this talk, our pioneer efforts in establishing Next-
Generation sequencing (RNA-Seq) in the context of biomimetic materials engineering will be described1. I will
discuss how RNA-Seq, integrated with proteomics and biophysical characterization offers an ideal platform that
dramatically facilitates biomimetics research. I will specifically illustrate our efforts in deploying this platform
towards intriguing model systems, including squid Sucker Ring Teeth (SRT), which are remarkable protein-based
materials that can compete with the best structural synthetic polymers. Despite these impressive properties, interchain
chemical cross-linking is absent and the teeth are fully stabilized by a network of hydrogen bonds. We have
shown that SRT are entirely made of modular proteins, which assemble into a supramolecular network reinforced
by nano-confined β-sheets.