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Hai, Faisal I. A/Prof

Associate Professor

  • School of Civil, Mining & Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Professor - Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences
  • Academic Program Director - Civil Engineering, UOW-Dubai (transnational)
  • Leader - Strategic Water Infrastructure Laboratory
  • Deputy Director - GeoQuEST Research Centre, UOW, Australia

Overview


After receiving his BSc (1st class Honours) in Civil Engineering from BUET, Bangladesh, Dr. Hai completed his Masters and PhD in Environmental Engineering in 2004 and 2007, respectively from the University of Tokyo, Japan. Before joining University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, he completed a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at the University of Tokyo. Dr. Hai  served as a  Vice Chancellor’s research fellow at the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering (CME) at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences (EIS) of UOW before taking up a continuing teaching and research lecturer position at CME from May 2011. 
A recipient of Japan Society on Water Environment - Outstanding Lecture Award (2010) and UOW Faculty of EIS Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning (OCTAL) award (2015), Dr. Hai currently serves as an Associate Professor with a number of research and governance leadership roles.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • A recipient of the Japan Society on Water Environment Outstanding Lecture Award (2010) and UOW Faculty of EIS Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning (OCTAL) award (2015), Dr Hai currently serves as an Associate Professor at the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering (CME). Before joining UOW, he completed a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He was awarded the UOW Vice Chancellor’s research fellowship in 2011, which he relinquished to take up a continuing teaching and research lecturer position at CME.

    A/Prof Hai has forged a strong collaboration with key industry partners (e.g., Sydney Water) and internationally leading researchers which have led to collaborative grants and/or publications (http://www.uow.edu.au/~faisal/). His research collaboration (with tangible outcomes such as high calibre publications) now expands in 12 countries. A/Prof Hai has edited two recent books on application of membrane technology in wastewater treatment, resource recovery and biofuel production with distinguished overseas researchers as co-editors. He was the lead editor of one of these books (Membrane Biological Reactors, International Water Association (IWA) Publishing, UK, 2014), which has received high commendation in many reviews, most notably from the membrane research legend Prof Tony Fane. Given his international research standing in membrane-based wastewater treatment processes, particularly the membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology, he has been appointed as an Associate Editor of ‘Water Science and Technology’ (IWA, UK) and ‘Journal of Water and Environment Technology’ (Japan Society on Water Environment), which are prime outlets for research communication to water professionals and researchers worldwide. He has also a served as a guest editor of other reputed journals, most recently for International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation (Elsevier).

     

Available as Research Supervisor

Available for Collaborative Projects

Selected Publications


Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Higher degree research experience within our group
    Our group is well known to provide students with patient and dynamic supervision and opportunities to learn. Thus most of our candidates complete their degrees with flying colours, and subsequently get good positions in well-known institutions. We are looking for higher degree research students who can respond positively to feedback and are able to show a reasonably swift learning curve. Students with Masters degree having a few papers in Clarivate impact factor journals and demonstrated skill of research work and scientific writing in English will have good chance to obtain a scholarship through the university.

    Students carrying scholarships from their own countries are encouraged to contact for discussion on research projects.

    Research topics
    For an idea about the research topics available, please check the publications available here:

    https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=13004627200

    The broad topics of our research focus are:

    • Water/wastewater treatment/reuse--membrane, biological, enzymatic and adsorption technologies
    • Remediation of emerging contaminants (micropollutant, microplastic, PFAS etc.) and microbial contamination (e.g., Legionella) from water
    • Groundwater management
    • Waste management, sludge management and energy recovery
    • Biofuel production

    Here are examples of some specific topics:

    Fate, toxicity and removal of microplastics

    Microplastics (MPs) contaminate the oceans and are harmful to coastal and marine habitats. MPs are small plastic particles (1 µm to 5mm) that come in various shapes such as fibers, beads and fragments. Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) have been identified as an important pathway of MPs to the environment. While WWTPs can remove most of the larger MPs from wastewater, the majority of particles removed from the water phase are in fact transferred to the sludge. This means that plastic pollution can be potentially transferred to the terrestrial environment via application of treated sludge (biosolids) to fields as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. This study seeks to identify and quantify both micro and nano-sized plastics in water and sludge/biosolids during wastewater treatment to better understand the impact of WWTP operational parameters on occurrence and fate of micro- and nano- plastics.

    Mitigation of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

    The historic use of PFAS-containing fire-fighting foams has resulted in areas within these sites becoming contaminated with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Over the past decades, these chemicals have worked their way through the soil to contaminate surface and ground water, and have also migrated into adjoining land areas. The toxicity, mobility, persistence and bioaccumulation potential of PFOS and PFOA pose potential concerns for the environment and for human health. This study will systematically investigate the degradation of this recalcitrant group of compounds by using a combination of adsorption, enzymatic and advanced oxidation processes.

    Monitoring and mitigation of risk of Legionella in drinking water

    The genus Legionella is a pathogenic group of Gram-negative bacteria that includes the species L. pneumophila, causing legionellosis including a pneumonia-type illness called Legionnaires' disease. Recently instances of illness and deaths have occurred in Australian hospitals due to contraction of Legionella found in plumbing systems. Existing research from the US attribute Legionella proliferation in drinking water to operational decisions that lowered hot water circulation as an initiative to lowering energy usage. However research relevant to Australian conditions, regulations and plumbing design is limited. The current study will form a much needed baseline study towards filling in these research gaps.

    Biofuel production from municipal solid waste

    The world’s current dependence on fossil fuels coupled with the inevitable depletion of this supply has led to an increased emphasis being placed on developing sustainable fuel alternatives. Municipal solid waste is a promising source of this material as it comprises of up to 70% lignocellulose, is continuously being generated in large amounts and the diversion of such a large portion of waste from landfill has several environmental benefits. This research will focus on the conversion and optimisation of municipal solid waste to bioethanol by assessing the key factors of pre-treatment, hydrolysis, fermentation and separation. The use of a direct contact membrane distillation system will also be implemented due to its potential as a highly efficient and relatively low cost technology for ethanol separation from the fermentation broth.

    Bacterial versus fungal laccase: potential for micropollutant degradation

    Many micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals and biocides are not easily removed from wastewater by conventional biological treatments, resulting in a constant input into the aquatic environment. Laccases are polyphenol oxidases that catalyse the oxidation of various aromatic compounds, particularly those with electron-donating groups such as phenols (−OH) and anilines (−NH2), by using molecular oxygen as an electron acceptor. While the extensively studied white-rot wood-degrading fungi such as Trametes versicolor are attractive candidates with their high laccase production rates, very little is known about the potential of bacterial laccases for bioremediation applications. Wastewater treatment involving bacteria is, however, considered to be more stable, as bacteria generally tolerate a broader range of habitats and grow faster than fungi. Thus this study proposes a systematic comparison of bacterial and fungal laccases in batch and continuous flow reactors systems for micropollutant removal.

    High retention enzymatic membrane bioreactor for emerging trace organic contaminants removal

    The ability of laccase to oxidize phenolic and some non-phenolic trace organic contaminants (TrOCs) is exceptional. However, enzyme washout is a major constraint in the large scale application of an enzymatic reactor. In a previous study, we demonstrated sable TrOC treatment by an enzymatic reactor coupled with a membrane having pore size smaller than the molecular size of the enzyme. We confirmed the formation of an enzyme gel layer on the membrane surface which effectively adsorbed hydrophobic TrOCs, resulting in their high removal. However, enzyme gel layer could not adsorb hydrophilic TrOCs that were also resistant to biodegradation. We propose that the use of high retention membranes, which will retain both enzyme and TrOC, can facilitate biodegradation of resistant TrOCs. This study proposes to couple an enzymatic reactor with high retention membrane system (e.g., membrane distillation) to ensure complete retention of both enzyme and TrOCs, thereby facilitating enhanced TrOC degradation.

    Reducing sludge production while recovering nutrient during wastewater treatment via biological and ultrasonic treatment

    Activated sludge is the most widely-used process for treating domestic and industrial wastewaters. However, it produces large amounts of excess sludge that requires management and disposal. The most cost-effective approach to sludge management is to minimise the sludge production at the first place rather than treating the already produced sludge. This study proposes that sludge reduction can be achieved by exchanging a fraction of sludge from the main aeration tank with an external tank which provides anoxic environment and/or ultrasonic treatment. Such sludge treatment can also facilitate recovery of nutrients such as phosphorous which is a non-renewable source.

    Combination of advanced oxidation and biological processes for removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater

    Coupling advanced oxidation processes (AOP) with biological treatment is an approach usually adopted to treat wastewater containing refractory compounds and to limit the high treatment costs associated with AOPs. The latter can be introduced as either a pre-treatment for toxicity reduction or a post-treatment for final polishing of the wastewater. However, pharmaceutical wastewater often contains minor fraction of refractory and/or inhibitory organic compounds in a biodegradable matrix. For this kind of effluent, the pre-treatment with AOP is not effective due to the lack of selectivity of the hydroxyl radicals, while the post-treatment could leave a number of by-products of unknown harmfulness or otherwise reach an expensive complete mineralization. This study proposes a full integration of the biological and chemical processes is proposed, in which the AOP is operated in a recycling stream to the biological treatment.

    Urban wastewater treatment plants as hotspots for antibiotic resistant bacteria

    Urban wastewater treatment plants are among the main sources of release of antibiotics into the environment. The occurrence of antibiotics may promote the selection of antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotic resistant bacteria, which shade health risks to humans and animals. This study will investigate a comprehensive management plan including prevention and treatment of antibiotic resistant genes in wastewater.

    Biofiltration vs. conventional activated sludge plants: priority and emerging pollutants removal

    Currently biofilters are optimized for turbidity removal and filter runtime. Contaminant removal is a secondary consideration. However, proper biofiltration enhancement strategies can improve contaminant removal and/or filter hydraulic performance while achieving the turbidity removal goals. To maximize the benefits of biofilters, this study aims to optimize biofilters for all three performance goals via implementation of biofiltration enhancement strategies and integration of upstream processes.

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Membrane-based desiccant cooling and dehumidification
    Doctor of Philosophy Cultivating Anaerobic Granules for Enhanced Self-healing Concrete in Wastewater Infrastructure
    Doctor of Philosophy Sewer-Based Real-Time Genomic Epidemiology Using Nanopore Sequencing.
    Doctor of Philosophy Anaerobic co-digestion of municipal wastewater sludge with organic wastes Wickham, Richard
    Doctor of Philosophy Development of a novel high retention enzymatic membrane bioreactor (HR-EMBR) for the removal of trace organic contaminants Asif, Muhammad Bilal
    Doctor of Philosophy Sludge reduction using an integrated membrane bioreactor and oxic-settling-anonic (MBR-OSA) process: Underlying Mechanisms, microlial community and fate of trace organic contaminants Fida, Zulqarnain
    Doctor of Philosophy Removal of trace organic contaminants by ultra-violet radiation based advanced oxidation process and enzymatic membrane reactor. Tufail, Arbab
    Doctor of Philosophy Pretreatment, production and separation of bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass and microalgae Ahmed, Naveed
    Doctor of Philosophy Isolation and identification of microplastic degrading bacteria in Lake Illawarra Punam Kristhombuge, Nuwanthi
    Doctor of Philosophy Please provide evidence of your Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan Scholarship prior to commencement of your course. Habib, Rasikh
    Master of Research - EIS Effect of draw solution on nutrient transport through forward osmosis membranes Mukhtar, Hamza
    Master of Research - EIS Influence of fouling on nutrient transport through forward osmosis membranes Suleman, Saad Bin

Web Of Science Researcher Id


  • K-3331-2012

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • A recipient of the Japan Society on Water Environment Outstanding Lecture Award (2010) and UOW Faculty of EIS Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning (OCTAL) award (2015), Dr Hai currently serves as an Associate Professor at the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering (CME). Before joining UOW, he completed a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He was awarded the UOW Vice Chancellor’s research fellowship in 2011, which he relinquished to take up a continuing teaching and research lecturer position at CME.

    A/Prof Hai has forged a strong collaboration with key industry partners (e.g., Sydney Water) and internationally leading researchers which have led to collaborative grants and/or publications (http://www.uow.edu.au/~faisal/). His research collaboration (with tangible outcomes such as high calibre publications) now expands in 12 countries. A/Prof Hai has edited two recent books on application of membrane technology in wastewater treatment, resource recovery and biofuel production with distinguished overseas researchers as co-editors. He was the lead editor of one of these books (Membrane Biological Reactors, International Water Association (IWA) Publishing, UK, 2014), which has received high commendation in many reviews, most notably from the membrane research legend Prof Tony Fane. Given his international research standing in membrane-based wastewater treatment processes, particularly the membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology, he has been appointed as an Associate Editor of ‘Water Science and Technology’ (IWA, UK) and ‘Journal of Water and Environment Technology’ (Japan Society on Water Environment), which are prime outlets for research communication to water professionals and researchers worldwide. He has also a served as a guest editor of other reputed journals, most recently for International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation (Elsevier).

     

Selected Publications


Potential Supervision Topics


  • Higher degree research experience within our group
    Our group is well known to provide students with patient and dynamic supervision and opportunities to learn. Thus most of our candidates complete their degrees with flying colours, and subsequently get good positions in well-known institutions. We are looking for higher degree research students who can respond positively to feedback and are able to show a reasonably swift learning curve. Students with Masters degree having a few papers in Clarivate impact factor journals and demonstrated skill of research work and scientific writing in English will have good chance to obtain a scholarship through the university.

    Students carrying scholarships from their own countries are encouraged to contact for discussion on research projects.

    Research topics
    For an idea about the research topics available, please check the publications available here:

    https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=13004627200

    The broad topics of our research focus are:

    • Water/wastewater treatment/reuse--membrane, biological, enzymatic and adsorption technologies
    • Remediation of emerging contaminants (micropollutant, microplastic, PFAS etc.) and microbial contamination (e.g., Legionella) from water
    • Groundwater management
    • Waste management, sludge management and energy recovery
    • Biofuel production

    Here are examples of some specific topics:

    Fate, toxicity and removal of microplastics

    Microplastics (MPs) contaminate the oceans and are harmful to coastal and marine habitats. MPs are small plastic particles (1 µm to 5mm) that come in various shapes such as fibers, beads and fragments. Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) have been identified as an important pathway of MPs to the environment. While WWTPs can remove most of the larger MPs from wastewater, the majority of particles removed from the water phase are in fact transferred to the sludge. This means that plastic pollution can be potentially transferred to the terrestrial environment via application of treated sludge (biosolids) to fields as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. This study seeks to identify and quantify both micro and nano-sized plastics in water and sludge/biosolids during wastewater treatment to better understand the impact of WWTP operational parameters on occurrence and fate of micro- and nano- plastics.

    Mitigation of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

    The historic use of PFAS-containing fire-fighting foams has resulted in areas within these sites becoming contaminated with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Over the past decades, these chemicals have worked their way through the soil to contaminate surface and ground water, and have also migrated into adjoining land areas. The toxicity, mobility, persistence and bioaccumulation potential of PFOS and PFOA pose potential concerns for the environment and for human health. This study will systematically investigate the degradation of this recalcitrant group of compounds by using a combination of adsorption, enzymatic and advanced oxidation processes.

    Monitoring and mitigation of risk of Legionella in drinking water

    The genus Legionella is a pathogenic group of Gram-negative bacteria that includes the species L. pneumophila, causing legionellosis including a pneumonia-type illness called Legionnaires' disease. Recently instances of illness and deaths have occurred in Australian hospitals due to contraction of Legionella found in plumbing systems. Existing research from the US attribute Legionella proliferation in drinking water to operational decisions that lowered hot water circulation as an initiative to lowering energy usage. However research relevant to Australian conditions, regulations and plumbing design is limited. The current study will form a much needed baseline study towards filling in these research gaps.

    Biofuel production from municipal solid waste

    The world’s current dependence on fossil fuels coupled with the inevitable depletion of this supply has led to an increased emphasis being placed on developing sustainable fuel alternatives. Municipal solid waste is a promising source of this material as it comprises of up to 70% lignocellulose, is continuously being generated in large amounts and the diversion of such a large portion of waste from landfill has several environmental benefits. This research will focus on the conversion and optimisation of municipal solid waste to bioethanol by assessing the key factors of pre-treatment, hydrolysis, fermentation and separation. The use of a direct contact membrane distillation system will also be implemented due to its potential as a highly efficient and relatively low cost technology for ethanol separation from the fermentation broth.

    Bacterial versus fungal laccase: potential for micropollutant degradation

    Many micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals and biocides are not easily removed from wastewater by conventional biological treatments, resulting in a constant input into the aquatic environment. Laccases are polyphenol oxidases that catalyse the oxidation of various aromatic compounds, particularly those with electron-donating groups such as phenols (−OH) and anilines (−NH2), by using molecular oxygen as an electron acceptor. While the extensively studied white-rot wood-degrading fungi such as Trametes versicolor are attractive candidates with their high laccase production rates, very little is known about the potential of bacterial laccases for bioremediation applications. Wastewater treatment involving bacteria is, however, considered to be more stable, as bacteria generally tolerate a broader range of habitats and grow faster than fungi. Thus this study proposes a systematic comparison of bacterial and fungal laccases in batch and continuous flow reactors systems for micropollutant removal.

    High retention enzymatic membrane bioreactor for emerging trace organic contaminants removal

    The ability of laccase to oxidize phenolic and some non-phenolic trace organic contaminants (TrOCs) is exceptional. However, enzyme washout is a major constraint in the large scale application of an enzymatic reactor. In a previous study, we demonstrated sable TrOC treatment by an enzymatic reactor coupled with a membrane having pore size smaller than the molecular size of the enzyme. We confirmed the formation of an enzyme gel layer on the membrane surface which effectively adsorbed hydrophobic TrOCs, resulting in their high removal. However, enzyme gel layer could not adsorb hydrophilic TrOCs that were also resistant to biodegradation. We propose that the use of high retention membranes, which will retain both enzyme and TrOC, can facilitate biodegradation of resistant TrOCs. This study proposes to couple an enzymatic reactor with high retention membrane system (e.g., membrane distillation) to ensure complete retention of both enzyme and TrOCs, thereby facilitating enhanced TrOC degradation.

    Reducing sludge production while recovering nutrient during wastewater treatment via biological and ultrasonic treatment

    Activated sludge is the most widely-used process for treating domestic and industrial wastewaters. However, it produces large amounts of excess sludge that requires management and disposal. The most cost-effective approach to sludge management is to minimise the sludge production at the first place rather than treating the already produced sludge. This study proposes that sludge reduction can be achieved by exchanging a fraction of sludge from the main aeration tank with an external tank which provides anoxic environment and/or ultrasonic treatment. Such sludge treatment can also facilitate recovery of nutrients such as phosphorous which is a non-renewable source.

    Combination of advanced oxidation and biological processes for removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater

    Coupling advanced oxidation processes (AOP) with biological treatment is an approach usually adopted to treat wastewater containing refractory compounds and to limit the high treatment costs associated with AOPs. The latter can be introduced as either a pre-treatment for toxicity reduction or a post-treatment for final polishing of the wastewater. However, pharmaceutical wastewater often contains minor fraction of refractory and/or inhibitory organic compounds in a biodegradable matrix. For this kind of effluent, the pre-treatment with AOP is not effective due to the lack of selectivity of the hydroxyl radicals, while the post-treatment could leave a number of by-products of unknown harmfulness or otherwise reach an expensive complete mineralization. This study proposes a full integration of the biological and chemical processes is proposed, in which the AOP is operated in a recycling stream to the biological treatment.

    Urban wastewater treatment plants as hotspots for antibiotic resistant bacteria

    Urban wastewater treatment plants are among the main sources of release of antibiotics into the environment. The occurrence of antibiotics may promote the selection of antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotic resistant bacteria, which shade health risks to humans and animals. This study will investigate a comprehensive management plan including prevention and treatment of antibiotic resistant genes in wastewater.

    Biofiltration vs. conventional activated sludge plants: priority and emerging pollutants removal

    Currently biofilters are optimized for turbidity removal and filter runtime. Contaminant removal is a secondary consideration. However, proper biofiltration enhancement strategies can improve contaminant removal and/or filter hydraulic performance while achieving the turbidity removal goals. To maximize the benefits of biofilters, this study aims to optimize biofilters for all three performance goals via implementation of biofiltration enhancement strategies and integration of upstream processes.

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Membrane-based desiccant cooling and dehumidification
    Doctor of Philosophy Cultivating Anaerobic Granules for Enhanced Self-healing Concrete in Wastewater Infrastructure
    Doctor of Philosophy Sewer-Based Real-Time Genomic Epidemiology Using Nanopore Sequencing.
    Doctor of Philosophy Anaerobic co-digestion of municipal wastewater sludge with organic wastes Wickham, Richard
    Doctor of Philosophy Development of a novel high retention enzymatic membrane bioreactor (HR-EMBR) for the removal of trace organic contaminants Asif, Muhammad Bilal
    Doctor of Philosophy Sludge reduction using an integrated membrane bioreactor and oxic-settling-anonic (MBR-OSA) process: Underlying Mechanisms, microlial community and fate of trace organic contaminants Fida, Zulqarnain
    Doctor of Philosophy Removal of trace organic contaminants by ultra-violet radiation based advanced oxidation process and enzymatic membrane reactor. Tufail, Arbab
    Doctor of Philosophy Pretreatment, production and separation of bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass and microalgae Ahmed, Naveed
    Doctor of Philosophy Isolation and identification of microplastic degrading bacteria in Lake Illawarra Punam Kristhombuge, Nuwanthi
    Doctor of Philosophy Please provide evidence of your Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan Scholarship prior to commencement of your course. Habib, Rasikh
    Master of Research - EIS Effect of draw solution on nutrient transport through forward osmosis membranes Mukhtar, Hamza
    Master of Research - EIS Influence of fouling on nutrient transport through forward osmosis membranes Suleman, Saad Bin

Web Of Science Researcher Id


  • K-3331-2012
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