Yang Liu, PhD, PEng

Professor, Faculty of Engineering - Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept


Professor, Faculty of Engineering - Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept
(780) 492-5115
7-263 Donadeo Innovation Centre For Engineering
9211 116 St
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H5


Area of Study / Keywords

Environmental Engineering and Science


Canada Research Chair in Future Community Water Services & NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Urban Water Development

Liu Research Group


  • Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (Minor: Biology); University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007
  • M.S. in Environmental Engineering; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2003
  • B.Sc in Environmental Engineering; Beijing University of Chemical Technology, 2001

Professional Experience

  • 2018 to present, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.
  • 2008 to 2018, Assistant/Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.
  • 2007/8: Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University.
  • 2007: Research Associate, Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanics, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


Research Interests

Dr. Yang Liu’s research interests are centered in energy and nutrient recovery from municipal and industrial wastewater. She studies the basics of biofilm and granular sludge formation processes, and microbial population dynamics in environmental systems, and their applications in bioreactors for industrial wastewater treatment, and centralized and decentralized municipal wastewater treatment. Specific research activities are:

  • Main stream and side stream municipal wastewater nutrient reduction
  • Wastewater resource recovery and water reuse
  • Industrial wastewtaer treatment
  • Bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation
  • Fate and transport of pathogens in porous media

Research Currently in Progress

  • Energy and nutrient recovery from municipal wastewater
  • Source-diverted blackwater and greywater treatment
  • Side stream ammonia removal using nitriation and anammox processes
  • Biological nutrient removal using biofilm processes
  • Industrial wastewater treatment

Recent Publications (full list of publications)

  • Zhang, Y.Guo, B.; Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y. (2020) Key syntrophic partnerships identified in a granular activated carbon amended UASB treating municipal sewage under low temperature conditions. Bioresource Technology. In press.
  • Cabling, L.P.Kobayashi, Y.; Davies, E.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2020) Life cycle assessment of community-based sewer mining: Integrated heat recovery and fit-for-purpose water reuse. Environments.  In press.
  • Zou, X.Zhou, Y.Mohammed, A.; Liu, Y. (2020) Single reactor nitritation-denitritation for high strength digested biosolid thickening lagoon supernatant treatment. Biochemical Engineering Journal. In press.
  • Guo, B.; Zhang, Y.Yu, N.; Liu, Y. (2020) Impacts of conductive materials on microbial community during syntrophic propionate oxidization for biomethane recovery. Water Environment Research. In press.
  • Huang, Q.Reda, B.Zhang, L.Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y.; Dhar, B. (2020) A high-rate anaerobic biofilm reactor for biomethane recovery from source-separated blackwater at ambient temperature. Water Environment Research.  In press.
  • Yu, N.Guo, B.Zhang, Y.Zhang, L.Zhou, Y.; Liu, Y. (2020) Different micro-aeration rates facilitate production of different end-products from source-diverted blackwater.  Water Research, 177, 115783.
  • Gao, M.; Zhang, L.; Liu, Y. (2020) High-Loading Food Waste and Blackwater Anaerobic Co-digestion: Maximizing Bioenergy Recovery.  Chemical Engineering Journal, 394, 124911.
  • Li, R.; Liu, Y. (2020) Multivariate optimization and kinetics for treatment of fracturing flowback fluids with Chlorella vulgarisDesalination and Water Treatment.  In press.
  • Yang, S.Xu. S.Zhou, Y.Mohammed, A.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2020) The importance of integrated fixed film activated sludge reactor and intermittent aeration in nitritation-anammox systems: Understanding reactor optimization for lagoon supernatant treatment. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation.149, 104938.
  • Zhang, Q.; Zhang, L.Guo, B.; Liu, Y. (2020) Mesophiles outperform thermophiles in the anaerobic digestion of blackwater with kitchen residuals: insights into process limitations. Waste Management, 105, 279-288. 
  • Gao, M.; Guo, B.Zhang, L.Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y. (2020) Biomethane Recovery from Source-Diverted Household Blackwater: Impacts from Feed Sulfate. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 136, 28-38.
  • Zhou, Y.; Li, R.; Guo, B.Zhang, L.Zou, X.; Xia, S.; Liu, Y. (2020) Greywater treatment using an oxygen-based membrane biofilm reactor: formation of dynamic multifunctional biofilm for organics and nitrogen removal. Chemical Engineering Journal, 386, 123989.
  • Guo, B.; Zhang, Y.Zhang, L.Zhou, Y.; Liu, Y. (2020) RNA-Based Spatial Community Analysis Revealed Intra-Reactor Variation and Expanded Collection of Direct Interspecies Electron Transfer Microorganisms in Anaerobic Digestion.  Bioresource Technology, 298, 122534.
  • Kobayashi, Y.; Ashbolt, N.J.; Davies, E.G.R.; Liu, Y. (2020) Life cycle assessment of decentralized greywater treatment systems with reuse at different scales in cold regions. Environment International, 134, 105215. 
  • Zhou, Y.Guo, B.Zhang, L.Zou, X.Yang, S.Zhang, H.; Xia, S. Liu, Y. (2020) Anaerobically digested blackwater treatment by simultaneous denitrification and anammox processes: feeding loading affects reactor performance and microbial community succession. Chemosphere, 241, 125101.
  • Li, R.; Pan, J.; Zhang, L., Yang. J.; Qin, W.; Wang, Y.; Liu, Y.  (2020) Treatment of fracturing wastewater using microalgae-bacteria consortium.  Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 98, 484-490.
  • Wang, J.; Zhou, Q.; Liu Y. (2019) Adsorption and Co-precipitation of Metoprolol with Struvite Recovered from Synthetic Source Separated Black Wastewater.  Materials Science and Engineering. 611, 012053.
  • Yang, S.Xu. S.Mohammed, A.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2019) Improving nitrogen removal in an IFAS nitritation-anammox reactor treating lagoon supernatant by manipulating biocarrier filling ratio and hydraulic retention time. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 152, 107365.
  • Zhang, L.Guo, B.Zhang, Q.Florentino, A.Xu, R.Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y. (2019) Co-digestion of blackwater with kitchen organic waste: effects of mixing ratios and insights into microbial community. Journal of Cleaner Production, 236, 117703.
  • Gao, M.Guo, B.Zhang, L.Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y. (2019) Enhancing biomethane recovery from source-diverted blackwater through hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis dominant pathway. Chemical Engineering Journal, 378, 122258.
  • Yang, S.Xu. S.Mohammed, A.Guo, B.; Vincent, S.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2019) Anammox Reactor Optimization for the Treatment of Ammonium Rich Digestate Lagoon Supernatant - Step Feeding Mitigates Nitrite Inhibition. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 143, 104733.
  • Gao, M.Guo, B.Zhang, L.Zhang, Y.; Liu, Y. (2019) Microbial community dynamics in anaerobic digesters treating conventional and vacuum toilet flushed blackwater.  Water Research, 160, 249-258.
  • Xu, R.Xu, S.Zhang, L.Florentino, A.; Yang, Z.; Liu, Y. (2019) Impact of zero valent iron on blackwater anaerobic digestion. Bioresource Technology, 285, 121351. 
  • Yee, R.Leifels, M.Scott, C.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2019) Evaluating Microbial and Chemical Hazards in Commercial Struvite Recovered from Wastewater. Environmental Science & Technology, 53(9): 5378-5386.
  • Zhou, Y.; Zhang, Z.; Zhang, L.Xu, S.Guo, B.; Liu, Y.; Xia, S. (2019) Promoting waste activated sludge reduction by linear alkylbenzene sulfonates: surfactant dose control extracellular polymeric substances solubilization and microbial community succession. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 374, 74-82.
  • Yang, S.Xu, S.Florentino, A.; Mohammed, A.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2019) Importance of controlling phosphate concentration in nitritation-anammox reactor operation. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 5, 1234-1243.
  • Sharaf, A.Guo, B.; Liu, Y. (2019) Impact of the filamentous fungi overgrowth on the aerobic granular sludge process. Bioresource Technology, 7, 100272.
  • Yee, R.; Alessi, D.; Ashbolt, N.; Hao, W.; Konhauser, K.; Liu, Y. (2019) Nutrient Recovery from Source-Diverted Blackwater: Optimization for Enhanced Phosphorus Recovery and Reduced Co-Precipitation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 235, 417-425.
  • Shao, Y.; Zhang, H.; Buchanan, I.; Mohammed, A.; Liu, Y. (2019) Comparison of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) in nitrification and nitritation bioreactors. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 143, 104713.
  • Yang, S.Guo, B.Shao, Y.; Mohammed, A.; Vincent, S.; Ashbolt, N.; Liu, Y. (2019) The value of floc and biofilm bacteria for anammox stability when treating ammonia-rich digester sludge thickening lagoon supernatant. Chemosphere, 233, 472-481.
  • Florentino, A.; Xu, R.Zhang, L.; Liu, Y. (2019) Anaerobic digestion of blackwater assisted by granular activated carbon: From digestion inhibition to methanogenesis enhancement.  Chemosphere, 233, 462-471.
  • Zhang, Q.; Davies, E. G. R.; Bolton, J. R.; Liu, Y. (2019) Impacts of biofilm on monochloramine decay in storm sewer systems: direct reactions or AOB cometabolism. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 149, 107246
  • Liu, L.Wang, Y.; Craik, S; James, W.; Shu, Z.; Narain, R.; Liu, Y. (2019) Removal of Cryptosporidium surrogates in drinking water direct filtration. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 181, 499-505
  • Ryue, J.Lin, L.; Liu, Y.; Lu, W.; McCartney, D.; Dhar, B. R. (2019) Comparative effects of GAC addition on methane productivity and microbial community in mesophilic and thermophilic anaerobic digestion of food waste. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 146, 79-87.
  • Xu, R.Xu, S.Florentino, A.Zhang, L.; Liu, Y. (2019) Enhancing blackwater methane production by enriching hydrogenotrophic methanogens through hydrogen supplementation. Bioresource Technology, 278, 481-485. 
  • Asha, A.; Chen, Y.; Zhang, H.; Ghaemi, S.; Ishihara, K.; Liu, Y.; Narain, R. (2019) Rapid mussel-inspired surface zwitteration for enhanced antifouling and antibacterial properties.  Langmuir, 35(5):1621-1630.
  • Liu, L.Wang, Y.; Narain, R.; Liu, Y. (2019) Functionalized polystyrene microspheres as Cryptosporidiumsurrogates. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 175:680-687.
  • Shao, Y.; Florentino, A.; Buchanan, I.; Mohammed, A.; Liu, Y. (2019) Microbial population dynamics in a partial nitrification reactor treating high ammonia strength supernatant from anaerobically digested sludge: role of the feed water characteristics.  International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 137, 109-117.
  • Florentino, A.; Sharaf, A.Zhang, L.; Liu, Y. (2019) Overcoming ammonia inhibition in anaerobic blackwater treatment with granular activated carbon: the role of electroactive microorganisms.  Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 5, 383-396.
  •  Gao, M.Zhang, L.Florentino, A.; Liu, Y. (2019) Performance of anaerobic treatment of blackwater collected from different toilet flushing systems: Can we achieve both energy recovery and water conservation? Journal of Hazardous Materials, 365, 44-52.
  • Tang, Y.Xu, S.Alam, MD S.Konhauser, K.; Alessi, D.S.; Tian, W.; Liu, Y. (2019) Influence of pyrolysis temperature on production of digested sludge biochar and its application for ammonium removal from municipal wastewater. Journal of Cleaner Production, 209, 927-936.
  •  Zhang, L.Xu, M.; Liu, Y. (2019) Pretreatment for anaerobic blackwater treatment: ultrasonication and thermal hydrolysis. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 14 (1), 32-36.
  • Xu, S.Nze, K.; Mohamed, A.; Liu, Y. (2019) Red worm elimination in an integrated fixed film activated sludge reactor. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 14 (1), 44-53.
  • Gao, M.Zhang, L.Zhang, H.Florentino, A.; Liu, Y. (2019) Energy recovery from municipal wastewater: impacts of temperature and collection systems. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 14 (1), 24-31.
  • Zhou,Y.Xu, S.Zhang, L.; Liu, Y.; Xia, S. (2019) Cocoamidopropyl betaine dosage dependent of short-time aerobic digestion for waste activated sludge reduction.  ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 7(1), 877-884.