In 2015, Prof. Dr. Ir. Mohd Ali Hashim was recognised in the outstanding scholastic achievement category for his contribution in the research of separation processes and water and wastewater treatment. He started his career at the Department of Chemical Engineering, UM in 1980. He has undertaken a number of high impact research programmes, which comprised environmental engineering, separation processes, chemical and biochemical reaction engineering, ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents: synthesis and applications, and chemical engineering education.
In 1989, Prof. Ali initiated a pioneering research programme for separation of fine particles from aqueous suspensions using bubble flotation.In this work, he utilised colloidal gas aphrons (CGAs), which are micron sized bubbles of 25-30 μm in diameter produced by a high speed stirrer in a vessel containing dilute surfactant solution. These bubbles, because of their small size, exhibit colloidal properties. Each bubble is encapsulated in a soapy film and therefore their surfaces are induced with electrical charges. One remarkable quality of the CGAs is that they can be generated in one place and then transported elsewhere by using conventional equipment such as pumps. Moreover, owing to their small sizes, these bubbles ascend slowly in a flotation cell and facilitate attachment of particles to their surfaces. Thus clarification of suspensions such as palm oil fibers from palm oil mill effluent, emulsified oil from oily wastewater, fine cellulose fibers from paper mill wastewater and fine cells from fermentation broth can be efficiently undertaken. Prof. Ali also worked extensively on aerobic and anaerobic treatment of wastewaters and activated sludge systems. These research works have practical implications when they were applied to industry for real time problem solving, such as at Colgate-Palmolive (M) Sdn. Bhd. and Esso Production Malaysia Inc.
Currently, in collaboration with Queen's University Belfast, Prof. Ali is concentrating on an in-situ treatment technology for iron contaminated groundwater in Kelantan where the high iron content of 10 mg/L makes it unfit for domestic and industrial uses.
More stories at UMR Bulletin Vol 2 2015