Angove - Colloid, environmental and pharmaceutical science

Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, organic material and water. Understanding how these colloidal components interact is critical to us being able to assess the overall sustainability and health of environmental and agricultural soil systems.

Our research seeks to understand the nature of these interactions so that we are better placed to manage soil environments, and even rehabilitate soils that have been damaged and contaminated through various human activities.

Colloid chemistry has many important applications in pharmaceutical science, and so this research group also has an interest in the development and understanding of pharmaceutical products that utilise colloidal particles and systems.

Research areas

Interactions of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in sediments

A wide range of synthetic compounds appear in waste water, but perhaps of more concern is the increasing prevalence of many of these in natural water systems. This project involves the study of how these compounds might interact with various organic and inorganic solid phases which are present in sediments and waste-water treatment plants. This information is important so that we can assess environmental fate of these compounds and develop removal strategies for water treatment.

Heavy metal removal from soils and biosolids

The presence of heavy metal contamination in soils is a global problem that prevents the development and use of significant amounts of industrial and agricultural land. This project examines the operation of a pilot plant for the treatment of soils and sludges contaminated with heavy metals, with the aim of reducing the category of contamination to avoid the need for landfill disposal. This research follows from a previous HazWaste Fund project with the EPA, where Category A soils could be remediated using acid digestion and soil washing methods. This project attempts to improve extraction rates by examining solid phase chemistry using XRD/XRF spectroscopy pre- and post-treatment. Various additives will be investigated in order to optimise extraction efficiencies.

Measuring soil organic carbon and assessing farming practices to increase soil carbon

Organic carbon is a vital component of healthy, productive soils. It consists of living organisms and their breakdown products. Soils high in organic carbon retain more water and nutrients, and can sustain a greater diversity of organisms. It is therefore important to monitor the levels of organic carbon in soil. While there are a range of standard methods, these are both expensive and unreliable. This project evaluates current methods and investigates a simple soil colour grading method using a digital camera or scanner to estimate soil carbon. The project also looks at methods that can be used by agriculture to increase the levels of organic carbon stored in soils.

Assessing the impact of polyphosphate fire retardants on soil environments

One of the strategies employed against bushfire is utilisation of polyphosphate fire-retardants which are dropped from aircraft. While the retardant compounds are very effective, they also remain as residues, burnt and unburnt, in the environment. This project assesses the transport of polyphosphates in natural burnt and unburnt soil environments.

Meet the team

Group members

Angove groupGroup leader

Dr Mike Angove


Dr David Morton
Dr Sabine Wilkens

Emeritus scholar

Dr Bruce Johnson

PhD students

Tim Johns
Azedah Sadri
Sherry Sadri
Quereshi Sahail
Sheila Sayeda


View Dr Mike Angove's profile.