Prof. Zhiguo Yuan AM

PhD in Control Engineering, Beihang University
Staff title
Chair Professor of Urban Water Management

Prof. Yuan received his PhD degree in control engineering in 1992 from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Beihang University), China. He changed research field to urban water management in 1994, when he took up a postdoctoral research fellow position at Ghent University, Belgium. He joined the Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC), now the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology, at The University of Queensland, Australia, in 1998. He served as the AWMC Deputy Director in 2001-2014, and then the AWMC/ACWEB Director in 2015 to 2022. He jointed City University of Hong Kong as a Chair Professor in May 2023.

His research focuses on development of innovative solutions for urban water management and environmental biotechnology through effective integration of fundamental science and applied engineering. He won over AUD50M in government, industry, and university research funding, mostly as the Lead Investigator. Prof Yuan was one of the founding members of the AUD117M Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities in Australia (2012-2021).

He is the founder of three businesses namely SeweX, Cloevis and Lodomat, and his research has delivered documented savings of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian water industry.

He is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher. He has, till Feb 2023, published over 550 papers in peer reviewed journals including Nature, Science, Nature Microbiology, Nature Communications, PNAS, Energy and Environmental Science, Water Research (>170) and Environmental Science and Technology (>60). His papers have been cited for >42,000 times giving an h-index of 115 (Google Scholar, 02/2023).

His research achievements and leadership have been recognized through prestigious awards including the 2015 ATSE Clunies Ross Award (a top technology award in Australia) and the 2014 IWA Global Project Innovation Award (Applied Research Category). Prof Yuan was named as one of Engineers Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Engineers for 2015. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), an IWA Distinguished Fellow, and was awarded the highly prestigious ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2017. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in January 2019. He is Editor-in-Chief of Water Research X, and was one of the Editors of Water Research (2017-2022).

Research Interests

  • Gas-fed (bio)processes
    Gaseous carbon conversion to value-added products, or for value-adding applications.  
  • Innovative technologies for biological nutrients removal and recovery
    Innovative technologies and fundamental science for biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal and recovery from wastewater.
  • Integrated Urban Water Management
    A whole-of-system approach to managing multiple water resources in an urban water cycle and multiple elements in an urban water system.
  • Net-zero urban water management
    Fugitive greenhouse gas emissions from urban water systems including CH4 emission in sewers, N2O emission from wastewater treatment processes and CH4 and N2O emissions from estuaries, dams, and bays.
  • Sewer management
    Sewer corrosion and odour management, sewer monitoring and control, sewage epidemiology.
  • Sludge treatment to produce bioenergy and reusable biosolids
    Innovative technologies for enhancing bioenergy recovery from wastewater, reducing sludge production, and improving biosolids quality.
  • Smart urban water systems
    Descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive data analytics for proactive urban water management.
Other Information

Position(s) Available

Professor Yuan will soon start recruiting postdoctoral research fellows and PhD students in areas of urban water management and environmental biotechnology. Potential applicants are welcome to contact Professor Yuan via to discuss opportunities.

City University of Hong Kong is an equal opportunity employer and we are committed to the principle of diversity. We encourage applications from all qualified candidates, especially applicants who will enhance the diversity of our staff.


Prof Yuan’s complete list of publications (>550) can be found at:
Google Scholar:

Representative publications in several areas are alphabetically listed below.

Gas-fed (bio)processes

  1. McIlroy, S. J., Leu, A. O., Zhang, X., Newell, R., Woodcroft, B. J., Yuan, Z., Hu, S. and Tyson, G. W. (2023) The pleomorphic life cycle of the anaerobic methanotroph ‘Candidatus Methanoperedens nitroreducens’. Nature Microbiology. 8(2):321-331.
  2. Wu, M., Li, J., Leu, A. O., Erler, D. V., Stark, T., Tyson, G. W., Yuan, Z., Mcllroy, S. J, Guo, J. (2022) Anaerobic oxidation of propane coupled to nitrate reduction by a novel lineage of the class Symbiobacteriia. Nature Communications 13, 6115 (2022).
  3. Rabiee, H., Ge, L., Zhang, X., Hu, S., Li, M. and Yuan, Z. (2021) Gas Diffusion Electrodes (GDEs) for electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and dinitrogen to value-added products: a review. Energy & Environmental Science 14: 1959 - 2008.
  4. Cai, C., Zhang, X., Wu, M., Liu, T., Lai, C.-Y., Frank, J., He, B., Marcellin, E., Guo, J., Hu, S., Yuan, Z. (2021) Roles and opportunities for microbial anaerobic oxidation of methane in natural and engineered systems. Energy and Environmental Science 14, 4803–4830.
  5. Haroon, M. F.*, Hu, S.*, Shi, Y., Imelfort, M., Keller, J., Hugenholtz, P., Yuan, Z.#, and Tyson, G. W.# (2013) Anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to nitrate reduction in a novel archaeal lineage. Nature, 500: 567-570. * equal first author; # joint corresponding author.

Innovative technologies for biological nutrients removal

  1. Zheng, M., Li, H., Duan, H., Liu, T., Wang, Z., Zhao, J., Hu, Z., Watts, S., Meng, J., Rattier, M., Larsen, E., Guo, J., Dwyer, J., Van Den Akker , B., Lloyd, J., Hu, S. and Yuan, Z. (2023) One-year stable pilot-scale operation demonstrates high flexibility of mainstream anammox application. Water Research X 19: 100166.
  2. Duan, H., Watts, S., Zheng, M., Wang, Z., Zhao, J., Li, H., Liu, P., Dwyer, J., McPhee, P., Rattier, M., Larsen, E., Yuan, Z., Hu, S. (2022). Achieving robust mainstream nitrite shunt at pilot-scale with integrated sidestream sludge treatment and step-feed. Water Research, Volume 223, 119034.
  3. Wang, Z., Zheng, M., Hu, Z., Duan, H., De Clippeleir, H., Al-Omari, A., Hu, S. and Yuan, Z. (2021). Unravelling adaptation of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in mainstream PN/A process: mechanisms and counter-strategies. Water Research, Volume 200, 15 July 2021, 117239.
  4. Wang, Z., Zheng, M., Meng, J., Hu, Z., Ni, G., Guerrero Calderon, A., Li, H., De Clippeleir, H., Al-Omari, A., Hu, S., Yuan, Z. (2021) Robust nitritation sustained by acid-tolerant ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. Environmental Science and Technology. 55, 3, 2048–2056.
  5. Liu, T., Li, J., Lim, Z. K., Chen, H., Hu, S., Yuan, Z. and Guo, J. (2020) Simultaneous removal of dissolved methane and nitrogen from synthetic mainstream anaerobic effluent. Environmental Science and Technology. 54, 12, 7629–7638.

Integrated urban water management

  1. Hu, Z., Zheng, M., Hu, S., Hong, P., Zhang, X., Prodanovic, V., Zhang, K., Pikaar, I., Ye, L., Deletic, A. and Yuan, Z. (2022). Electrochemical iron production to enhance anaerobic membrane treatment of wastewater. Water Research. Volume 225, 119202.
  2. Murali, M. K., Hipsey, M. R., Ghadouani, A. and Yuan, Z. (2021) An investigation into the impacts of water demand management and decentralized water recycling on excess sewer sediment deposition. Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 279, 111788.
  3. Kulandaivelu, J., Shrestha, S., Khan, W., Dwyer, J., Steward, A., Bell, L., McPhee, P., Smith, P., Hu, S., Yuan, Z. and Jiang, G. (2020) Full-scale trials of ferrous dosing in sewers and wastewater treatment plant for multiple benefits. Chemosphere, 250:126221.
  4. Rebosura Jr. M., Salehin, S., Pikaar, I., Kulandaivelu, J., Jiang, G., Keller, J., Sharma, K. and Yuan, Z. (2020) Effects of in-sewer dosing of iron-rich drinking water sludge on wastewater collection and treatment systems. Water Research, 171: 115396.
  5. West, C., Kenway, S., Hassall, M. and Yuan, Z. (2016) Why do residential recycled water schemes fail? A comprehensive review of risk factors and impact on objectives. Water Research, 102: 271-281.

Net-zero urban water systems

  1. Spérandio, M., Lang, L., Sabba, F., Nerenberg, R., Vanrolleghem, P., Domingo-Félez, C., Smets, B. F., Duan, H., Ni, B.-J. and Yuan, Z. (2022) Chapter 7: Modelling N2O production and emissions. Ye et al (Eds) Quantification and Modelling of Fugitive Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Water Systems. pp 167-196. IWA Publishing. DOI: ISBN electronic: 9781789060461.
  2. Duan, H.; Zhao, Y.; Koch, K.; Wells, G.; Zheng, M.; Yuan, Z.; Ye, L. (2021) Insights into nitrous oxide mitigation strategies in wastewater treatment and challenges for wider implementation. Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 200, 15 July 2021, 117211.
  3. Duan, H.; van den Akker, B., Thwaites, B. J.; Peng, L.; Herman, C.; Pan, Y.; Ni, B. J., Watt, S.; Yuan, Z.; Ye, L. (2020) Mitigating nitrous oxide emissions at a full-scale wastewater treatment plant. Water Research 185 (2020) 116196.
  4. Foley, J., Yuan, Z., Keller, J., Senante, E., Chandran, K., Willis, J., Shah, A., van Loosdrecht, M.C.M. and van Voorthuizen E. (2015) N2O and CH4 emission from wastewater collection and treatment systems ISBN: 9781780407333, IWA Publishing, 248 pages.
  5. Guisasola, A., Sharma, K. R., de Haas, D., Keller, J., and Yuan, Z. (2009). Development of a model for assessing methane formation in rising main sewers. Water Research. 43(11): 2874-2884.

Sewer corrosion and odour management

  1. Bu, H., Carvalho, G., Huang, C., Sharma, K. S., Yuan, Z., Bond, P., Keller, J., Yu, M. and Jiang, G. (2022) Evaluation of continuous and intermittent trickling strategies for the removal of hydrogen sulfide in a biotrickling filter. Chemosphere, Volume 291, Part 1, March 2022, 132723.
  2. Zhong, H., Shi, Z., Jiang, G. and Yuan, Z. (2020) Synergistic inhibitory effects of free nitrous acid and imidazoline derivative on metal corrosion in a simulated water injection system. Water Research, 184, 116122.
  3. Li, X., Bond, P., O'Moore, L., Wilkie, S., Hanzic, L., Johnson, I., Mueller, K., Yuan, Z. and Jiang, G. (2020) Increased resistance of nitrite-admixed concrete to microbially induced corrosion in real sewers. Environmental Science and Technology, 54, 4, 2323–2333.
  4. Pikaar, I., Fluggen, M., Lin, H. W., Salehin, S., Li, J., Donose, B. C., Dennis, P. G., Bethke, L., Johnson, I., Rabaey, K., Yuan, Z. (2019) Full-scale investigation of in-situ iron and alkalinity generation for efficient sulfide control. Water Research, Volume 167, 15 December 2019, 115032.
  5. Pikaar, I., Sharma, K., Hu, S., Gernjak, W., Keller, J. and Yuan, Z. (2014) Reducing sewer corrosion through integrated urban water management. Science, 345: 812-814.

Sludge treatment to produce bioenergy and reusable biosolids

  1. Wang, Z., Ni, G., Xia, J., Song, Y., Hu, S., Yuan, Z. and Zheng, M. (2021) Bioleaching of toxic metals from anaerobically digested sludge without external chemical addition. Water Research, 200, 117211.
  2. Wang, Z., Zheng, M., Duan, H., Ni, G., Yu, G., Liu, Y., Yuan, Z. and Hu, S. (2021) Acidic aerobic digestion of anaerobically-digested sludge enabled by a novel ammonia-oxidizing bacterium. Water Research, 194: 116962.
  3. Meng, J., Duan, H., Li, H., Watts, S., Liu, P., Shrestha, S., Yu, W., Chen, Z., Song, Y., Dwyer, J., Hu, S. and Yuan, Z. (2020) Free nitrous acid pre-treatment enhances anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge and rheological properties of digested sludge: a pilot-scale study. Water Research, 172: 175515.
  4. Zhang, L., Duan, H., Ye, L., Liu, L. Batstone, D. and Yuan, Z. (2019) Increasing capacity of an anaerobic sludge digester through FNA pre-treatment of thickened waste activated sludge. Water Research, 149: 406-413.
  5. Wang, Q., Ye, L., Jiang, G., Jensen, P., Batstone, D., Yuan, Z. (2013) Free Nitrous Acid (FNA)-based pre-treatment enhances methane production from waste activated sludge. Environmental Science and Technology, 47(20): 11897-11904.

Smart urban water systems

  1. Li, J., Sharma, K., Li, W. and Yuan, Z. (2022) Swift hydraulic models for real-time control applications in sewer networks. Water Research, Volume 213, 15 April 2022, 118141.
  2. Li, K.; Duan, H.; Liu, L.; Qiu, R.; van den Akker, B.; Ni, B-J; Chen, T; Yin, H.; Yuan, Z.; Ye, L. (2022) An integrated first principal and deep learning approach for modelling nitrous oxide emissions from wastewater treatment plants. Environmental Science and Technology 56, 4, 2816–2826.
  3. Li, J., Li, W., Chang, X., Sharma, K. and Yuan, Z. (2020) Real-time predictive control for chemical Distribution in sewer networks using improved elephant herding optimization. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics. 18(1) 571 - 581.
  4. Yuan, Z., Olsson, G., Cardell-Oliver, R., van Schagen, K., Marchi, A., Deletic, A., Urich, C., Rauch, W., Liu, Y., Jiang, G. (2019) Sweating the assets – the role of instrumentation, control and automation in urban water systems. Water Research 155:381-402.
  5. Li, J., Sharma, K., Liu, Y., Jiang, G. and Yuan, Z. (2019) Real-time prediction of rain-impacted sewage flow for on-line control of chemical dosing in sewers. Water Research, 149: 311-321.
Staff Image
Prof. Zhiguo Yuan AM
Contact Information
Office: TBA
Phone: TBA
Fax: +(852)-3442-0688
Email: TBA
Research Interests
  • Integrated urban water management
  • Net-zero urban water management
  • Smart urban water systems
  • Sustainable carbon bioeconomy
  • Wastewater treatment and resource recovery
  • Urban water infrastructure protection