Geopolymer and Mineral Processing Group


Our Areas of Interest


Geopolymers are a class of aluminosilicate materials with potential applications as a cement replacement for Greenhouse gas emission minimisation and niche applications, and also as an advanced material for use in fire-proof composites and refractories. Utilisation of industrial wastes, particularly geothermal wastes, fly ashes and mineralogical slags, is an area receiving significant attention. University of Melbourne research is focused on developing a more complete understanding of the chemistry of geopolymerisation, with a view towards optimising performance in desired applications. We work closely together with industrial partners in developing geopolymers as a sustainable alternative to traditional construction materials. This is our main area of research at present.


Flotation is a primary method used in the separation of valuable metal ore particles from unwanted ‘gangue’ material. Research into the flotation behaviour of coarse particles is currently being undertaken, with a view towards reducing the energy requirements for the crushing and grinding processes required prior to flotation.


Hydrometallurgical methods for the extraction of gold from its ores are commonly based on the use of cyanide as a leaching agent. However, the toxicity of cyanide compounds has led to the search for alternative processes, the most promising of which appears to be based on the use of ammoniacal thiosulphate leach liquors. Characterisation of the mineralogical, solution and surface chemistry of this system is currently being undertaken.

Ion Exchange

Collaboration with Assoc Prof David Shallcross has led to the development of a simplified but accurate mathematical model for prediction of multicomponent ion exchange systems. The use of this model to describe a wide variety of ion exchange processes both in minerals processing and in more general applications is the focus of ongoing work.

Research Projects

A sample of our research projects:

Temperature, pH and photo-responsive polymers as responsive flocculants

Researchers: George Franks, Luke Connal

Stimuli-responsive polymers are an exciting class of materials that undergo reversible hydrophilic-hydrophobic transitions following changes in environmental conditions. The most well-studied example is poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM), a smart … Read more

Contact Us

Dr Rackel San Nicolas

T: +61 3 8344 9572
F: +61 3 8344 4153

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Building 2
The University of Melbourne VIC 3010

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