Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL)

The Centre has an analytical laboratory providing services to internal and external clients. Besides routine analyses, the ASL continuously adapts and develops new analytical methods in the area of waste, surface and drinking water in order to support researchers in their new research areas.

On a routine basis ASL is measuring nutrients (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate), Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen and total phosphorus, sulfur species (hydrogen sulfide, sulfate, thiosulfate, sulfite), anions, ethanol, methanol, and other alcohols, greenhouse gases (N2O, CH4), disinfection by-products, total organic carbon, glucose, lactic, formic, succinic and volatile fatty acids, organics, pharmaceuticals and other micropollutants, organic sulfur compounds, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV) and COD (chemical oxygen demand).

The ASL Lab is equipped with the following instruments:

  • Gas chromatograph with CTC autosampler and electron capture detector (ECD)
  • LC-MS-MS (AB4000 QTRAP)
  • Gas chromatograph with masspectrometer and sulfur chemiluminescence detector (GC-MS/SCD)
  • HPLC with reflective index, photoarray and fluorescence detector
  • Three gas chromatographs with FID detectors
  • Total Organic Carbon Analyser with Total Nitrogen detector (TOC/TN)
  • Ion chromatograph with conductivity and UV detector
  • Flow Injection Analyser
  • Inductive Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectroscopy instrument (ICP-OES)

For more information, please contact the ASL Lab.

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Methane potential and activity testing

Methane potential and activity testing developed at ACWEB can provide certainty for anaerobic digestion projects. Anaerobic digestion technologies are an attractive option for the treatment of organic solids, resulting in a net energy generation and production of safe, easy-to-handle residues for beneficial reuse in agriculture. However, the feasibility of such a project is highly dependent on the speed and extent of degradation, which can vary for different materials.

ACWEB is a key leader and developer of anaerobic biodegradability, activity and inhibition tests, offering independent testing to enable certainty in feasibility analysis. Ongoing testing of existing projects offers benchmarks to assess process efficiency and product quality. In 2010, BMP testing was used to help Sydney Water Corporation evaluate options for upgrading a large existing wastewater treatment plant. A variation of this test allows independent testing of anaerobic seed biomass, and digester biomass health.

Clients for this testing include:

  • Foster’s Brewery
  • Allconnex Water
  • Melbourne Water
  • Sydney Water Corporation
  • Trisco Foods
  • Visy Pulp and Paper
  • WSN Environmental Solutions Australia

For more information, please contact Professor Damien Batstone, or Associate Professor Paul Jensen.

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Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (EML)

The Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (EML) offers a range of services. The EML is a fully equipped modern laboratory for molecular biology and the culturing of microorganisms.

These include facilities for manipulation and fingerprinting of DNA and various forms of enrichment and microbial culture techniques. Our location, at The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, Brisbane, ensures we have ready access to a range of excellent complementary facilities that include confocal laser scanning microscopy, electron microscopy and flow cytometry. We have strong expertise and experience for molecular characterisation of environmental and industry samples particularly for determining microbial community composition.

Services include:

  • Microbial community profiling: Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) and Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (TRFLP) are high throughput methods that are very powerful for the comparison of microbial diversity in a number of samples, for example to examine spatial and temporal population variations.
  • Community DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis: At the core of identifying microorganisms from environmental samples is sequencing of ribosomal genes. EML uses the latest techniques for cloning and “next-generation” DNA sequencing. Phylogenetic sequence analysis is used to determine the relationship of unknown microorganisms to known representatives.
  • Microbial community structure using fluorescent probes: Fluorescently-labeled oligonucleotide probes based upon RNA sequences have achieved wide acceptance in the field of microbial ecology. This technique is widely used to visualise and identify microorganisms directly in the environmental sample, and is known as fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH).

For more information, please contact Dr Rajarathnam Dharmarajan

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