Water is the most precious resource in the world. In order to sustain our population and lifestyle, it is essential that we effectively manage our water resources, rivers, coastal areas and associated infrastructure.

Access to clean water

How can we provide access to clean water for both developing countries and more economically developed urban environments?

Some of our research in water treatment and resource management include:

Sewer corrosion in urban environments

Recognised as one of the most critical infrastructure assets for urban societies, the maintenance costs for sewer systems run into billions of dollars a year across the world. A team of UQ researchers has found a way to save water providers hundreds of millions of dollars a year by reducing sewer corrosion.

The team found that a common coagulant that is added in the drinking water treatment – aluminium sulfate – can be a key contributor to the sulfate levels in sewage. This in turn is the primary source of hydrogen sulfide, which creates rapid concrete degradation and is the main cause of global sewer corrosion. This corrosion could be avoided by switching to sulfate-free coagulants at little or no extra cost compared with the potential million dollar savings in sewer maintenance and corrosion costs.

Graphene-based photocatalysts for water purification

Regulations on public drinking water quality are becoming more and more stringent. This requires new water technology to treat freshwater before it is consumed. Traditional water treatment technologies such as membrane filtration and ultraviolet disinfection may no longer be effective in the future. Photocatalysts is an advanced oxidation technology for the removal of containments in water. Utilising the important physical and chemical properties of graphene to design novel photocatalysts, UQ is developing a graphene-based composite photocatalyst, which will find applications in not only purifying water and treating wastewater, but also purifying air.

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Safeguarding the planet

How can we safeguard the planet against large-scale episodic events?

Some of our research around safeguarding the planet include:

Coastal Engineering

The Coastal Engineering Research Group conducts a wide range of coastal based research projects under the umbrellas of coastal hydrodynamics, coastal sediment transport and coastal groundwater. The team undertakes field, laboratory and numerical investigations into areas such as wave setup, swash processes, rip currents, heavy mineral sorting, coastal morphology, coastal groundwater dynamics and salinity, and river entrance dynamics.

Recently a new field facility has been established at the Spit on Queensland’s Gold Coast in conjunction with Griffith University and the Gold Coast City Council. This innovative field research facility comprises an array of manometer tubes deployed along a single cross-share transect through the surf zone, measuring mean water levels and waves across the surf zone during storm conditions.

Climate change adaptation plan for the provincial capital of Choiseul in the Solomon Islands

Working together with the local Choiseul community, a team of researchers have developed a comprehensive climate change adaptation plan to move the town of Taro, with a population of 800, to the adjacent mainland. Positioned less than two metres above sea level, Taro is under significant risk from tsunamis and ocean storms, as well as the future of climate change and the resulting rise in sea levels.

The relocation of the capital, including schools, hospitals and businesses, will take many decades to complete, and the adaptation plan also aims to increase the community’s resilience to coastal hazards, such as the preparation of a tsunami response plan.

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Water treatment and resource management

What technologies can we develop to improve water treatment and resource management?

Some of our research in water treatment and resource management include:

Fertilisers made from waste: supporting a sustainable agricultural industry

The rising cost and shrinking availability of fertiliser have long been of concern to the agricultural industry, not to mention the fact that current global use is unsustainable from a resource and environmental perspective. Researchers were surprised to discover that producing fertiliser from waste is indeed sustainable and can meet global demand.

So far, it has been discovered that approximately 30% of the net Australian fertiliser market can be recovered from Australian wastes, but that globally, up to 100% of phosphorous and potassium and 50% of nitrogen can be recovered from wastes, and reused in fertilisers.

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Our partners



Related research centres and groups

Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

An internationally recognised centre in innovative water technology and management.

Clean Energy and Water Research Group

Focuses on design and preparation of advanced materials for electrochemical energy storage, water purification, low-temperature methane combustion, and carbon dioxide utilisation.

Coastal Hydraulic and Water Engineering Research Group

The group’s research encompasses both ocean and coastal engineering, including extreme ocean waves, tsunami impacts, storm surge, Tropical Cyclone modelling, surf and swash zone and atoll lagoon hydrodynamics, sediment transport mechanics and the morphology of beaches, morphology of coastal lagoons, coastal groundwater dynamics and statistical simulation of oceanic and coastal hazards.


A Research Group with a focus on developing knowledge and solutions on the often-interdependent energy and environment issues


One of the premier research laboratories in Australia, focusing on applications of inorganic membrane technology such as gas separation and membrane reactors at high temperatures, various liquid separations, and desalination.

Water-Energy-Carbon Research Group

Conducts research on water, energy and carbon (greenhouse gases) flows through our society at various scales – technology, household, suburb, utility, industry, city, region, production systems and economy.