innovative Resources and Waste Technologies (iRWT)

We seek to contribute to sustainable engineered transformation of renewable resources and waste to energy and to useful materials by developing technologically efficient and economically viable solutions.

iRWT’s vision is to develop sustainable technologies and advanced materials for the industries and communities through cutting-edge research in the transformation of biomass and waste to higher value products including clean fuels, platform chemicals and niche materials.

With an overarching theme of sustainability, the operational themes of the group include

  1. Process development (unit operations, optimisation, process intensification and integration, techno-economic assessment, life-cycle analysis, renewable energy sources)
  2. Energy (harvesting/utilising renewable energy, energy efficiency) 
  3. Materials (catalysts, adsorbents, soil amendments, transforming agents, processing media).

Our core capabilities

  • Novel process development and process intensification
  • Engineered processes for diverse feedstocks
  • Advanced materials production from waste or low-cost renewable resources
  • Materials and process application for enhanced performance.
Innovative Resources and Waste Technologies logo

Key research projects

ARC Training Centre for transformation of Australia's biosolids resource (Primary funder: ARC)

This ARC Training Centre focuses to transform the use of Australian biosolids to a valuable resource, providing new practices, technologies and products for improved land management and training.

Remediation of PFAS in current and legacy biosolids application sites (Primary funder: ARC)

The iRWT Group is working to destruct per- and poly-fluroalkyl substance (PFAS) in biosolids employing a range of thermochemical processes namely pyrolysis, gasification and combustion.

A novel mineral looping tar removal process for biomass gasification (Primary funder: ARC)

Traditional biomass gasification units experience tar formation. The goal of this project is to develop a simple, robust and cost effective method for removing tar from biomass gasification processes.

A chemical looping process for carbon fibre production from plastics (Primary funder: ARC)

This research focuses on large scale carbon fibre production from plastic wastes by developing a Mineral Looping Plastic Reforming (MLPR), a chemical looping reforming process.

Hybrid photocatalytic nanomaterials for water purification (Primary funder: ARC)

Photocatalysts are the materials that absorb light to catalyse a reaction. iRWT Group is working to synthesise and characterise a range of porous photocatalytic materials that can be potentially employed in high-throughput processes.

Biosolids to biochar:  An innovative solution to biosolids management (Primary funder: Industry)

Biosolids, the stabilised sewage sludge produced from wastewater treatment facilities, are growing concerns as they contain pathogens as well as several contaminants such as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), micro-plastics and pharmaceutical ingredients. iRWT Group is developing a novel biosolids treatment technology aiming to produce biochar leading to provide wastewater industries a biosolids management solution.

Investigating the feasibility of pyrolysis/co-pyrolysis of the Victorian biosolids and alum sludge (Primary funder: Industry)

This project focuses on investigating the feasibility to co-pyrolyse a range of agricultural residue with biosolids. This aim here is to reduce heavy metal content in biosolids’ biochar to low levels.

Advance carbon materials production of wastewater treatment plant (Primary funder: Industry)

This project is establishing a novel integration of biosolids and biogas streams in the pyrolysis process for the production of clean energy and carbon materials.

Hydrothermal processing of Paunch Waste (Primary funder: Industry)

Paunch waste, the undigested/semi-digested feed of cattle, is a heavily moisture-laden and environmentally risky material. iRWT Group is employing hydrothermal processing (includes carbonisation, liquefaction and supercritical water gasification) to transform this waste to value-added char (hydro- or super- char), oil and gas.  

Understanding nickel and cobalt reactions and speciation during neutralisation (Primary funder:  Industry)

This project investigates enhanced recovery of valuable metals/oxides from low-grade ore through process intensification.

Integrated water management through the application of advanced wastewater treatments (Primary funder: DELWP -  Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)

Research Exchange with the Universidad Estadual de Maringa under the Victoria-Parana Memorandum of Understanding (the Project). The project is a collaboration between RMIT environmental scientists and researchers at Universidade Estaduel de Maringa (UEM). While, researchers from UEM will evaluate the efficiency of advance oxidation processes, researchers at RMIT will apply membrane bioreactors to treat the same wastewater. The synergies of the teams involved in this technological challenge have potential to overcome the challenge and come up with a unique solution to treat hospital wastewaters. The State of Victoria is supporting the collaboration under an economic development agreement with the State of Parana in Brazil.

Landscape modelling, remote sensing, nutrient management, tools for precision agriculture and grape quality (primary funder: ATSE)

This project aims to improve waste management and soil quality in vineyards. Waste will be pyrolyzed to be transformed in a charcoal. Economic return will be achieved through the diversion of waste from landfills and an improvement in crop yield.

Converting solid waste from abattoirs into Hydrochar (primary funder: Industry)

The main aims of this project are 1. Comparison of the effect of compost, hydrochar and biochar as soil amendments and as components of growing media 2. Evaluate the energy recovery associated with biochar and hydrochar production prepared at different temperatures. 3. Study the economic feasibility of the production of bio- and hydro-char from solid waste in the meat industry. In the foreseeable future other routes of commercialization should be explored. This would comprise soil remediation in heavy metal polluted areas and in saline soils.

Valorisation of automobile shredded residue (primary funder: Industry)

Automobile shredded residue (ASR) will be collected. Differences in sample composition and their underlying causes are studied. The calorific value of the waste products is estimated.

Conversion of CO2-rich gas as a chemical feedstock

This project aims to develop material design principles for constructing catalyst architectures that enable the use of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) as a renewable carbon feedstock. The project is expected to provide significant benefits to the process industry by turning emission liability into useful products of higher economic value.

A low emission route for hydrogen production

This project focuses on the development of novel metal nanocatalysts for methane decomposition for the production of hydrogen and high-value carbon.

Hydrothermal transformation of agri-residue and waste plastics to energy and high-performance carbon materials (Primary funder: RMIT)

Optimal feedstock formulation for energy-efficient production of high-performance carbon and bio-fuel.

Development of scalable process technologies for bio-fuel and novel carbon materials (Primary funder: RMIT)

Development of new hydrothermal technologies that are scalable for conversion of waste to energy and niche materials.

Cladding panels from waste polymers (Primary funder: Industry)

Reconfiguring polymer waste for deployment in high-performance applications in construction.

 

Key publications

Theme: Process Development

Dhanavath, K.N., Shah, K., Bhargava, S.K., Bankupalli, S. and Parthasarathy, R., 2018. Oxygen–steam gasification of karanja press seed cake: Fixed bed experiments, ASPEN Plus process model development and benchmarking with saw dust, rice husk and sunflower husk. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering6(2), pp.3061-3069.

Zhou, C., Tremain, P., Doroodchi, E., Moghtaderi, B. and Shah, K., 2017. A novel slag carbon arrestor process for energy recovery in steelmaking industry. Fuel Processing Technology155, pp.124-133.

Shah, K., Zhou, C., Song, H., Doroodchi, E. and Moghtaderi, B., 2015. A novel hybrid chemical-looping oxy combustor process for the combustion of solid and gaseous fuels: thermodynamic analysis. Energy & Fuels29(2), pp.602-617.

Theme: Energy

Doki Yamaguchi, Liangguang Tang, Nicola Scarlett, Ken Chiang, The activation and conversion of carbon dioxide on the surface of zirconia-promoted ceria oxides. Chemical Engineering Science (In press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ces.2020.115520).

Yamaguchi, D., Tang, L. and Chiang, K., 2017. Pre-oxidation of natural ilmenite for use as an oxygen carrier in the cyclic methane–steam redox process for hydrogen production. Chemical Engineering Journal, 322, pp.632-645.

Sage, V., Sun, Y., Hazewinkel, P., Bhatelia, T., Braconnier, L., Tang, L., Chiang, K., Batten, M. and Burke, N., 2017. Modified product selectivity in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis by catalyst pre-treatment. Fuel Processing Technology, 167, pp.183-192.

Theme: Materials

Nizamuddin, S., Jadhav, A., Qureshi, S.S., Baloch, H.A., Siddiqui, M.T.H., Mubarak, N.M., Griffin, G., Madapusi, S., Tanksale, A. and Ahamed, M.I., 2019. Synthesis and characterization of polylactide/rice husk hydrochar composite. Scientific Reports, 9, pp.1-11.

Wang, T., Liu, S., Mao, W., Bai, Y., Chiang, K., Shah, K. and Paz-Ferreiro, J., 2019. Novel Bi2WO6 loaded N-biochar composites with enhanced photocatalytic degradation of rhodamine B and Cr (VI). Journal of Hazardous Materials (In press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121827).

Adhikari, S., Gascó, G., Méndez, A., Surapaneni, A., Jegatheesan, V., Shah, K. and Paz-Ferreiro, J., 2019. Influence of pyrolysis parameters on phosphorus fractions of biosolids derived biochar. Science of the Total Environment, 695, p.133846.

 

Members

Group leaders:

Theme leaders:

Associated investigators

Research fellows

Research assistants

  • Mr Tejas Patel

Research candidates

  • Mr Pobitra Halder
  • Mr Sudhakar Pabba
  • Mr Mojtaba Hedayati Marzbali
  • Ms Shefali Aktar
  • Ms Nimesha Rathnayake
  • Ms Ekaterina Selezneva 
  • Ms Reshma Lachhireddi
  • Mr Ibrahim Hakeem
  • Mr Jyhia Sheppard
  • Mr Charles Dike
  • Ms Shashirekha Rudrappa
  • Ms Fitri Widhiastuti
  • Mr Nardev Bajaj
  • Ms Karma Zuraqi 
  • Ms Yiming  Huang 
  • Mr Humair Baloch
  • Mr Muhammad Tahir Hussain Siddiqui
  • Ms Nazia Siddiqui
  • Mr Ramesh Tangirala
  • Mr Shiv Prasad
  • Mr Eric York
  • Mr Mohammad Haris
  • Ms Zhuyun Gu

 

Prizes and awards

2019 – Melbourne Water Innovation Award (Associate Professor Kalpit Shah, and Emeritus Professor Felicity Roddick)

2019 - Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (Savankumar Patel)

 

Opportunities

Post-doctoral research positions

Please check RMIT University job portal to view current opportunities. Please contact a group leader or affiliated members to discuss opportunities available at post-doctoral level.

Masters and doctoral by research projects

Please contact one of the group leaders or any affiliated member to discuss available projects.

Honours and design projects

Find our offered projects from your course instructions provided in Canvas. Please contact us if you have any question.

Exchange opportunities

We support short term student exchange activities and provide research training opportunities to students. Write to us and find out the projects available in our group.

 

Research performance

HDR completions (last 3 years): 5

Publications:

  • 2019: 33
  • 2018: 29

Funding:

  • 2017-2019: >$2M

 

Contact

Contact us by email to find out more about our work:

Email: irwt@rmit.edu.au

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer