Centre for Green Chemical Science

Research themes

Waste and the environment

Theme coordinator – Viji Sarojini

  • Novel methods for water purification including efficient removal of low levels of pollutants (endocrine disruptors, pesticides, herbicides, etc.) from drinking water.
  • Development of new technologies for the evaluation of water quality.
  • Pollution prevention through replacement of polluting processes.
  • Sensors for air quality and pollution monitoring.
  • Toxicology and impact of chemical processes on the environment.
  • Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas mitigation.

Waste to Value

Theme coordinator – Bruno Fedrizzi

  • Transforming waste and residues into useful products.
  • Novel applications of waste products and repurposing of waste.

Sustainable Synthesis

Theme coordinator – Jon Sperry

  • Developing biorenewable materials for products currently sourced from fossil-fuels.
  • Chemical synthesis using biodegradable materials (bioplastics, biopolymers) and syntheses using biomass-derived building blocks.
  • High atom economy syntheses.
  • Solvent elimination and sustainability assessment of solvents.
  • Utilization of techniques and technologies that minimise energy and maximise reaction efficiency.


Theme coordinator – Ivan Leung

  • Biosynthetic chemistry and biocatalysis.
  • Green catalysts to enhance or facilitate new chemical processes.
  • Catalytic chemistry to develop biorenewable materials.

Centre members and Green Chemical Science Research Interests


Green Chemistry Research Interests

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble

  • Use of CH activation chemistry as a method to produce unnatural amino acid building blocks in an atom economical manner 
  • An atom economical one step method to lipidate bioactive peptides using our patented CLiPA technology
Professor Penny Brothers
  • Functional models of Co and Fe nitrile hydratases as selective synthetic catalysts for the industrial production of amides by hydration of organic nitriles
  • RFID based pH detection based on spin-crossover metal complexes for real time pollution prevention monitoring
  • New frustrated Lewis acid/base pairs based on boron and main-group donors for the heterolytic activation of hydrogen
Dr Bruno Fedrizzi
  • Recovery of bioactive components and aroma precursors from gape waste and polymer formation using these compounds
Dr Daniel Furkert
  • Development of environmentally sustainable transformations for organic synthesis
Professor Juliet Gerrard
  • Bionanoscaffolds from self-assembled protein nanofibrils derived from crystallin proteins, a waste material from the fishing industry. 
Dr Marija Gizdavic-Nikolaidis
  • Eco-friendly synthesis of advanced nanomaterials, zeolites and biopolymer based nanocomposites
  • Environment and water treatment: developing an antimicrobial polymer based water filter
  • Green approaches of obtaining bioactive compounds and biodegradable polymers  from food waste 
  • Green routes of synthesis zeolites catalysts      
  • Green polymer chemistry and bio-based plastics                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Professor Paul Kilmartin
  • Smart packaging utilising grape tannin extracts (materials from sustainable resources)
Dr Ivanhoe Leung
  • The use of enzymes as green catalysts for (bio)synthetic organic chemistry
Professor Laurie Melton
  • Macromolecular assemblies formed from food proteins and polysaccharides
Dr Michel Nieuwoudt
  • Use of specialised spectroscopic techniques for reaction control and optimisation
Dr Octavio Perez-Garcia
  • Environmental and industrial biotechnology, production of valuable chemicals from industrial and municipal waste
Dr Viji Sarojini
  • New enzymes for water treatment
Associate Professor Siew-Young Quek
  • Recovery of bioactive components from waste by-products using supercritical fluid extraction
  • Removal of pollutants from water using agricultural waste by-products as adsorbents
Associate Professor Naresh Singhal
  • Developing membranes modified for chemical reactivity and clogging resitance for use in reverse and osmosis treatment systems
  • Enhacing production of biological catalysts in biological treatment systems
  • Advanced oxidation processes
Professor Kevin Smith
  • Surface Chemistry of Complex Multi-Element Metal Oxides for Fuel Cell Applications.
  • Molecular Photovoltaics
  • Oxides for energy storage
  • Water photolysis
DrTilo Soehnel
  • Development of novel Sn based cluster materials as highly effective alternatives to existing noble-metal based oxidation catalysts (catalysis, pollution reduction)
Dr Jonathan Sperry
  • Using biomass-derived building blocks in the synthesis of value added products
  • Synthesis of super-commodity chemicals (adipic acid, phthalic anhydride, etc) from bio-renewable resources
Dr Simon Swift
  • Toxicity testing and water contaminants
Dr Dongxiao Sun-Waterhouse
  • Utilisation of bioresources including waste and side streams from agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic industries
Dr Peter Swedlund
  • A range of projects related to water quality, transport of contaminants and nutrients, chemical processes at interfaces, water treatment
Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic
  • Smart polymeric materials with controlled architecture for advanced applications (polymerisation with low concentrations of catalysts, water purification, tissue engineering)
Dr Geoff Waterhouse
  • Photocatalytic H2 production from water and biofuels
  • Hierarchically structured semiconductor electrodes for DSSCs and photoelectrochemical cells.
  • Heterogeneous catalytic and photocatalytic systems for VOC abatement and water purification
  • Novel porous adsorbents for H2 storage and waste water treatment
  • Environmentally friendly oxynitride pigments
Professor James Wright
  • Synthesis of iron catalysts that will enable hydrogen peroxide to be used in water purification, bleaching operations and selective oxidation chemistry
  • Development of smart catalytic surfaces for water purification
  • Development of highly efficient palladium catalysts for C-C and C-N cross coupling reactions
Associate Professor Silas Villas-Boas
  • The use of fermentation technology and microorganisms to convert bio-derived substrates into high-value added products, e.g. using fruit byproducts as feedstocks for the production of valuable chemicals

Dr Zoran Zujovic

  • Use of solid state NMR spectroscopy as a tool to learn more about green chemical processes and to understand structures of complex and versatile materials obtained within the Centre for Green Chemical Sciences
  • The reversible hydrogen storage in the conducting polymer polyaniline nanomaterials

Research Facilities

A wide range of Research Facilities are available to Centre members at the University of Auckland.