Basma Khallaf, a Saudi PhD student at RMIT University, Melbourne has made pioneering advances on research in the treatment of sludge, a process for the disposal of sewage.

Sludge treatment is focussed on reducing sludge weight and volume in order to reduce disposal costs and potential health risks of disposal options.

Basma’s research aims to reduce the time required to stockpile biosolids which will reduce the storage costs and increases the nutrient value to agriculture. She has developed a method of removing Ascaris eggs from sludge samples. Ascaris is a round worm that infects humans when its eggs are ingested.

Increase in the rate of removal of Ascaris eggs from Sludge will allow the biosolids from sewage to be used for land application at a substantially higher rate. This outcome will support government policy on the use of biosolids in Victoria in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits.

“Overall my study has validated a new approach and showed the highest recovery rate, providing the EPA with an easy, accurate and effective method to detect Ascaris in sludge,” Basma said.

Basma arrived in Australia in 2007 as a scholarship student from Saudi Arabia where she studied at King Abdulaziz University majoring in Biology whilst also working as a laboratory assistant She has completed a Biotechnology degree in RMIT and is now completing her doctorate at RMIT University in Biotechnology.

Her research was funded by the Victorian government and has been published in the International Water Association Journal. A number of organisations have shown a keen interest in her discovery in both Australia as well as Saudi Arabia.

South East Water and ALS Water Resources Group were impressed with the current results and have since contacted Basma to collaborate and observe her techniques. They have also offered her to be a co-author on any future publication in relation to this specific work.

“I have explored and evaluated sludge treatment during my PhD work, so I can share my knowledge with institute and research groups working on sludge treatment,” She stated enthusiastically.