Dr Lisa Bai

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Overview

Lisa Bai is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Queensland, where she is involved in a range of research projects on process development for sustaibale waste and wastewater management. Her main research focus is on recoverying waste nutrients from waste and wastewater for the production of bioenergy sources and value-added materials.

Dr. Bai obtained her Bachelor Degree in Bioengineering in Central South University, China and a PhD degree in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland. Both her bachelor and PhD thesises were focusing on open culture microalgae mass production as well as product, nutrients and energy recovery from the biomass. Before joining ACWEB, Lisa worked in an environmental service company in North Queensland (Townsville - Bowen) for four years, focusing on process design and development for the aquaculture water bioremediation using macroalgae technologies and utilising waste streams as feedstocks for the production of biomass for a diverse usage including aquaculture feed, fertiliser, and other bioactive compound.

Research Interests

  • Theme 1: Data-Based Waste Stream Identification
    A waste characterisation study is an essential tool for ensuring local governments and private companies make wise decisions on the wastewater and solid waste management programs, policies, and technologies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Identifying and characterising core (primarily food organics and biosolids), and non-core (agriculture and aquaculture industry) organic wastes has been a foundation of Lisa's work. Lisa was appointed as the lead post-doctoral fellow within the advanced anaerobic digestion (AD) and resource recovery node of ACWEB. Her research strength is developed and well recognised in the past 3 years, particular in a large Rural-for-Profit program and a Fight-Food-Waste-CRC program. With these two major programs tackling both core and non-core waste management, Lisa's research founds on i) broad-spectrum waste characterisation, including organic content, nutrients profile, metal risks etc. and ii) waste tailored characterisation methods, i.e. fat, oil and grease (FOG) profile, lignocellulosic matrix etc. The database for in-depth material classification has been applied as a critical tool for technology selection and enhancement.
  • Theme 2: Tailored Organic Waste Treatment Technology
    Following on Theme 1, Theme 2 utilises Lisa's strength in research and industrial consultancy experience. It is largely based on biological wastewater treatment technologies, particularly anaerobic digestion (AD) and other nutrients recovery biotechnology such as algae, ANAMMOX etc. AD is a well-established commercial biological technology that is extremely flexible to degrade and convert all different streams of organic wastes into methane (in the form of biogas), and resource rich residue (i.e. N as fertiliser, bio-stimulant for soil amendment). Lisa's research focuses on maximising the conversion of biowaste to value products via tailored treatment technology application and integration. A range of technology integration has been approved commercially viable and profitable. Her current AD feedstock pre-treatment trials has focused on enhancing multiple solid waste streams from red-meat-processers (RMPs). Her work on developing paunch pre-treatment technology for on-site management is shifting the paunch material from budget burden to ‘energy producer’ using AD. More recently, this work has progressed into pilot scale demonstration that is going to be demonstrated at an RMP partner in BNE.
  • Theme 3: Prediction Models
    Co-digestion is an extension of AD where multiple waste streams are imported and treated in centralised biogas infrastructure. For instance, majority of WWTPs use AD to treat 2-3 solid streams produced on site, and many plants are already or planning to introduce other conventionally landfilled materials such as FOGO (food waste and garden waste) to boost energy production and carbon footprint reduction. Lisa's work of this theme targets to establish a robust co-digestion model for rapid co-substrate selection and co-digestion process optimisation. The model development and validation focus on using simple model and short-term data (batch, semi-continuous) to provide utility, industry and technology providers with low-cost substrate selection and reliable dosing strategies to enhance process stability, avoiding system failure.
  • Theme 4: Biotechnology Based Process Enhancement
    Biological organic waste treatment is among the most important biotechnological applications and, as drivers of the key processes, microorganisms are central to its success. Essentially, modern wastewater treatment and technologies is using engineering techniques to maximise the targeted processes by either enhancing or inhibiting/eliminating certain groups of microorganisms in a mixed microbial system. As an engineer with molecular biology education background, Theme 4 has been a critical part of Lisa's interest and work in bridging the gap between ‘small’ (microorganisms) and the ‘big’ (full scale engineering systems). By using modern technologies such as FISH, enzyme-based analysis, her work has an essential section of microbial ecology mechanism investigation. For example, Lisa's biotech-based research work largely contributed to a full-scale process enhancement for N removal at a Red-Meat-Processing facility at NSW. The process applies PN-ANAMMOX (partial nitrification and anaerobic ammonium oxidation) process to remove N from wastewater in a low-energy consumption method to achieve the Carbon Neutral target.

Qualifications

  • Doctof of Philosophy, The University of Queensland

Publications

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Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision