Professor of Desalination and Water Treatment Wendell Ela

About me

My interests are exposed in the positions I have undertaken at Murdoch. I am the inaugural Chair of Desalination and Water Treatment at Murdoch University, the Associate Dean International of the School of Engineering and Information Technology, and the Chief Scientific Officer of the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia (NCEDA). My teaching, research, and consulting focuses on water and wastewater treatment processes.  Particular areas of work include desalination technology development and implementation, decentralized and off-grid water treatment systems, and integrated water/renewable energy solutions for rural communities and agriculture. I continue to be fortunate to work with exceptional students and colleagues and through these collaborative efforts have over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as am co-author of one of the most widely used textbooks in environmental engineering: Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science, 3rd edition. I have advised more than 50 Masters and PhD students and regularly serve on advisory and review committees for regulatory, water management, and environmental research and policy agencies.

Research areas

General: Physicochemical processes in engineered and natural water systems

Specific Work:

  • Desalination and recycling innovation and implementation
  • Membrane processes for water purification
  • Heavy metal/metalloid release and removal
  • Decentralized and off-grid water and sanitation systems
  • Treatment and fate of contaminants of emerging concern
  • Integrated water and renewable energy systems
  • Water treatment for non-potable purposes (e.g., agriculture, wildlife, mining)
  • Zero waste discharge water treatment systems



  • Duong, H., Xia, L., Ma, Z., Cooper, P., Ela, W., Nghiem, L., (2017), Assessing the performance of solar thermal driven membrane distillation for seawater desalination by computer simulation, Journal of Membrane Science, 542, , pages 133 - 142.
  • Karanikola, V., Corral, A., Jiang, H., Saez, A., Ela, W., Arnold, R., (2017), Effects of membrane structure and operational variables on membrane distillation performance, Journal of Membrane Science, 524, , pages 87 - 96.
  • Ravisankar, V., Seaman, R., Mirchandani, S., Arnold, R., Ela, W., (2016), Solar-driven membrane distillation demonstration in Leupp, Arizona, Reviews on Environmental Health, 31, 1, pages 79 - 83.
  • Stovern, M., Guzman, H., Rine, K., Felix, O., King, M., Ela, W., Betterton, E., Saez, A., (2016), Windblown Dust Deposition Forecasting and Spreadof Contamination around Mine Tailings, Atmosphere, 7, 2, pages Article 16 -.
  • Guzman, H., Li, J., Keshta, M., Saez, A., Ela, W., (2016), Release of arsenic from metal oxide sorbents under simulated mature landfill conditions, Chemosphere, 151, , pages 84 - 93.
  • Li, X., Felix, O., Gonzales, P., Saez, A., Ela, W., (2016), Reconciling PM10 analyses by different sampling methods for Iron King Mine tailings dust, Reviews on Environmental Health, 31, 1, pages 37 - 41.
  • Chinyama, A., Ncube, R., Ela, W., (2016), Critical pollution levels in Umguza River, Zimbabwe, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth Part C: Solar, Terrestrial & Planetary Science, 93, , pages 76 - 83.
  • Raghavan, M., Saez, A., Ela, W., (2015), Understanding abiotic ferrihydrite re-mineralization by ferrous ions, International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 12, 6, pages 1945 - 1956.
  • Karanikola, V., Corral, A., Jiang, H., Saez, A., Ela, W., Arnold, R., (2015), Sweeping gas membrane distillation:Numerical simulation of mass and heat transfer in a hollow fiber membrane module, Journal of Membrane Science, 483, , pages 15 - 24.
  • Corral, A., Yenal, U., Strickle, R., Yan, D., Holler, E., Hill, C., Ela, W., Arnold, R., (2014), Comparison of slow sand filtration and microfiltration as pretreatments for inland desalination via reverse osmosis, Desalination, 334, , pages 1 - 9.