Ecological Engineering solves problems for societies and their environment by designing solutions based on interdependent sustainable ecosystems
Aisling (Ash) O'Sullivan is a Professor of Ecological Engineering.
Her research focuses on creating ecologically-sound design solutions for treating polluted waters that also align to a circular economy and valorise waste resources. It is conducted in partnership with councils, Iwi and industry.
Aisling's research topics include;
1. Water Quality Monitoring and Modelling:
(i) quantifying the amount of elusive metal and nutrient contaminants by collecting field data and employing environmental data sensors.
(ii) modelling contaminant loads using experimental data and modelling tools (e.g. our stormwater model MEDUSA).
(iii) modelling hydraulics in passive treatment systems to better understand their performance (including across regional climates).
2. Clean Water Treatment Technologies:
Designing wastewater treatment solutions that are holistically sustainable (e.g. ecologically, economically and culturally appropriate). Applications have been applied to the mining, galvanising, stormwater and agricultural sectors. New designs have included modified engineered wetlands, green roof technologies and storm water systems such as raingardens and her patented Storminator™ downpipe technology. All of these have used wastes as an active treatment media.
3. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): quantifying whole-of-life environmental impact(s) of current and future wastewater treatment systems using LCA modelling software (Simapro), Ecological Footprint metrics and a Wellbeing Framework.
4. Engineering Education: pedagogy of engineering curricula to enhance engineering students’ competency in sustainability and biculturalism.
Complementary research Aisling has led includes developing algal-bacterial waste biomass as a second generation biofuels.
- O'Sullivan A., Cochrane T. and Charters F. (2018) A Device for Treating Roof Runoff.Patent No. 740976, New Zealand Patent Application 740976.
- Charters FJ., Cochrane TA. and O’Sullivan AD. (2021) The influence of urban surface type and characteristics on runoff water quality. Science of The Total Environment 755: 142470-142478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142470.
- Charters F., Cochrane T. and O'Sullivan A. (2020) Predicting Event-Based Sediment and Heavy Metal Loads in Untreated Urban Runoff from Impermeable Surfaces. Water 12(4) http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/w12040969.
- Charters F., Cochrane TA. and O'Sullivan AD. (2017) Characterising urban zinc generation to identify surface pollutant hotspots in a low intensity rainfall climate. Water Science and Technology 76(6) WST-EM161777R1: 1370-1377. http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/wst.2017.306.
- Charters FJ., Cochrane TA. and O'Sullivan AD. (2016) Untreated runoff quality from roof and road surfaces in a low intensity rainfall climate. Science of the Total Environment 550: 265-272. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.01.093.