School of Chemical Engineering

The Water-Energy-Carbon 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. We contribute to the design of more efficient cities and systems through metabolic analysis and benchmarking to inform policy.

We measure and model how settlements and systems consume water and energy, the inter-connections (nexus) between them, and the influence on costs, greenhouse gases (GHG) and environmental footprints. This helps us understand system efficiency and susceptibility to resource depletion in light of future pressures such as population growth and climate change. Some of our research also extends into the resource efficiency and environmental impacts of production systems, such as food supply chains and bio-production.

The group is particularly interested how water use influences energy use (and GHG) and vis versa. By studying water and energy together we can guide water and energy efficiency planning, strategy, and policy to avoid unintended burden-shifting.

The tools the group uses and builds include material flow analysis (MFA), water balance analysis, urban metabolism, environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), environmentally-extended input-output (IO) analysis, and spatially-linked data analysis (GIS).

Current Research Themes
  • Urban water mass balance / metabolism modelling
  • Urban water security
  • Water-energy (GHG) nexus
  • Integrated water and energy planning (including collaborative tournaments)
  • LCA and input-output analysis to complement metabolism analysis
  • Renewable energy integration into water and wastewater utilities

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Current Research Projects

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Research Collaborations

The research of the Water-Energy-Carbon Group involves international and national collaborations with the following organisations:

  • Asian Development Bank
  • Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Water Sensitive Cities (including Monash University and University of Western Australia).
  • Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), Switzerland
  • Industrial Ecology Lab (IELab)
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Smart Water Fund / Clearwater
  • Simon Fraser University, Canada
  • University of Sydney
  • University of New South Wales
  • Griffith University
  • University of British Columbia
  • Water Research Foundation and diverse USA partners
  • University of Technology Sydney

The research also involves collaborations with many faculties, schools and centres across UQ.