George Nakhla

Dr. George Nakhla, Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Western University, and SOWC Wastewater Node Leader in London, Ontario

Dr. George Nakhla is a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Western University, and is the Salamander Chair in Environmental Engineering. He is the leader of the Southern Ontario Water Consortium’s Wastewater Node at Western University in London, Ontario– a segment of the platform that provides access to real-time municipal wastewater at various flow rates and process streams, allowing SOWC users to install, test, demonstrate, and validate new wastewater treatment technologies at full-scale. His areas of expertise include treatment of municipal and industrial wastes, and landfill leachate, biological nutrient removal processes, membrane bioreactors, fluidized bed bioreactors, anaerobic wastewater treatment, pre-treatment of biosolids to enhance anaerobic digestion, and conversion of high-strength organic wastes to green energy.

Dr. Nakhla has developed 5 patents on wastewater and biosolids treatment technologies that are in various stages of commercialization. He has conducted numerous treatability studies and pilot tests at municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants in Ontario at Guelph, London, St. Mary’s, Listowel, Ingersoll and developed process designs for various treatment systems, including the first Biological Nutrient Removal Communal System in Heidelberg, Ontario. He was a member of the Engineering team for biosolids reduction pilot project at St. Mary’s that won the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) Biosolids Award in 2008. He has more than 270 technical publications including more than 160 refereed journal papers.

Dr. Nakhla obtained his BSc and the University of Khartoum in Sudan, and both his MSc and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Questions & Answers with Dr. Nakhla

What do you aim to accomplish through your work?
The main aim of my research is to help develop practical solutions to real- world wastewater treatment problems, both through development of new treatment technologies as well as optimization of current technologies.

How is your research translating into real-world water solutions?
A number of technologies and innovative design concepts are in various stages of commercialization, with some technologies being demonstrated at large scale and others in the process of being licensed by Canadian and Chinese companies.

Can you give a specific example?
Based on my pilot research, in conjunction with a Canadian consulting company, a novel biological nutrient removal system integrated with an emerging Canadian biosolids treatment technology was implemented at the St. Mary’s wastewater treatment plant. The project won the 2008 Water Environment Association of Ontario for Exemplary Biosolids Management.

How has the SOWC helped support your water research?
Through the SOWC, and the construction of the full-scale testing facilities at Greenway Water Pollution Control, I expect SOWC to accelerate the commercialization of my developed treatment technologies. Further, SOWC will guide my research into new areas through interaction with new industrial partners.

What type of collaborative opportunities are you looking for through the SOWC?
I am looking for opportunities to be an integral part of various wastewater technologies development initiatives, to participate in the early stages of developing, planning, and testing technologies, as well as getting access to performance data, undertaking data interpretation, and if necessary, support the testing through my laboratory and graduate student involvement, as this will provide unique training opportunities for Highly Qualified Personnel.

What is unique about the capacity you are leading within SOWC?
This full-scale testing facility is definitely unique in Canada and North America, as it facilitates real-time testing over a wide range of flows, various wastewater streams, and environmental conditions. The facility can serve not only serve technology vendors but also chemical and instrumentation companies.