Malaysian researcher joins oil spill project

August 13, 2012

A leading Malaysian nanotechnology researcher will join Murdoch University’s School of Engineering and Energy this month to collaborate on a new oil spill clean-up technology.

Dr Lai Mun Kou of the University of Technology Petronas will be working with the Murdoch Applied Nanotechnology Research Group (MANRG) thanks to a five-month Endeavour Award.

“Dr Lai’s activities are part of an ongoing effort to develop and strengthen the links between the thriving oil and gas industries in Malaysia and Western Australia,” said MANRG Director Dr Gerrard Eddy Poinern.

“These collaborations can help companies in both countries gain a competitive edge globally through novel cutting-edge technology.”

Dr Poinern said MANRG’s oil spill project would build on his group’s work on detoxifying toxic algae blooms in the Swan River. The new project will target organic contamination from petroleum compounds using nano iron (nano Fe).

“After the Gulf of Mexico disaster, we began to wonder if our innovative technique could be adapted to destroy hydrocarbons in water,” Dr Poinern said.

“Many of nature’s processes and reactions occur at the nano scale, so it’s a matter of finding out how we can bind these organic molecules to surfaces and use nanotechnology to our advantage.

“While industry takes great measures to ensure environmental protection, experience tells us future oil spills are inevitable, which means having the right tools can potentially avert severe environmental disasters.”

Dr Poinern said Malaysian researcher Anpalagan Sockalingam, who spent time with MANRG as an Endeavour recipient in 2009, has since been appointed to the prestigious National Nanotechnology Board of Malaysia.

“We hope Dr Lai’s experiences will generate similar dividends for his career and look forward to adding yet another world-class talent to our group,” Dr Poinern said.

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Comments (One response)

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