Chair in Water Process Engineering
Telephone: (01792) 606644
Room: Office - 418
Fourth Floor
Engineering North
Bay Campus

DSc Eng, PhD, MSc, BEng, Euro Ing, CEng, FIChemE, FLSW

Research interests lie broadly in the identification of innovative and cost-effective solutions to real world process engineering problems within the fields of water treatment, membrane technology and the engineering applications of atomic force microscopy.

Developed a highly successful research portfolio pursuing high quality curiosity-driven and strategically significant research. Established a very wide range of international research collaborations.

Current research areas:

  • Water treatment
  • Desalination
  • Novel membrane separation processes
  • Membrane nanotechnology
  • Application of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to chemical and process engineering

Internationally recognised as a world-leader in developing and applying the force measurement capability of AFM to the study of membrane surfaces.

Research has produced several breakthrough innovations, including:

  • Development of novel membranes
  • Smallest AFM colloid probe reported in the literature
  • First AFM coated colloid probe technique
  • First AFM cell probe technique
  • First direct measurements of the interaction of single live cells with surfaces
  • First use of the atomic force microscope in meso-scale cavitation studies

All these techniques/technologies have widespread applications in process optimisation and the development of novel processes.

Highly active in finding multidisciplinary, collaborative applications of atomic force microscopy and process engineering. For example, current projects range from rheology of colloidal suspensions and superspreading with nano-scale interactions to fabrication of re-usable materials based on mineral particulates. This approach has been highly successful in attracting both significant funding from EPSRC and industrial interest.


  1. Johnson, D., Wei Lun, A., Mohammad, A., Hilal, N. Dewatering of POME digestate using lignosulfonate driven forward osmosis Separation and purification technology 235 116151
  2. Hakami, M., Alkhudhiri, A., Zacharof, M., Hilal, N. Towards a Sustainable Water Supply: Humic Acid Removal Employing Coagulation and Tangential Cross Flow Microfiltration Water 11 10 2093
  3. Obaid, M., Abdelkareem, M., Kook, S., Kim, H., Hilal, N., Ghaffour, N., Kim, I. Breakthroughs in the fabrication of electrospun-nanofiber-supported thin film composite/nanocomposite membranes for the forward osmosis process: A review Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 50 13
  4. Anis, S., Hashaikeh, R., Hilal, N. Microfiltration membrane processes: A review of research trends over the past decade Journal of Water Process Engineering 32 100941
  5. Lo, S., Jones, J., Hassan, O., Hilal, N., Hassan, O., Jones, J., Hilal, N. Development of an axisymmetric parallel solution algorithm for membrane separation process Desalination 471 114127

See more...


  • Optimisation of forward osmosis system (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christopher Wright
  • Oil-Water Separation by Using Ceramic Microfiltration Membrane (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Darren Oatley-Radcliffe
  • Development of a 3D parallel solution algorithm for filtration process (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Prof Oubay Hassan
  • 'Production of Novel Nanofibrous Materials Using the Free-Surface Electrospinning Technique' (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christopher Wright
  • The development of a Novel Superhydrophobic Electrospun Membrane for Air Gap Membrane Distillation Application (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christopher Wright
  • Periodical Electrolysis for advance water treatment (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Paolo Bertoncello
  • Engineering nanocomposite membranes; fabrication, modification and application (awarded 2018)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christopher Wright

External Responsibilities

  • Editor-in-Chief, International journal Desalination

    2009 - Present

  • Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi

    2013 - 2013

  • Director of the Centre for Clean Water Technologies, University of Nottingham

    2003 - 2010

  • Guest Editor, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science

    2011 - 2011

  • Advisor, Royal Society of New Zealand on Desalination

    2009 - 2010

  • Member of Scientific Advisory Board, Lifeboat Foundation, USA

    2007 - Present

  • Chairman, 1st International Conference on Desalination Using membrane tech

    2013 - 2013

  • Chairman, 1st International Conference on Desalination and Environment

    2011 - 2011

  • Co-chairman, Research events at University of Oxford on Water and Membranes

    2010 - 2010

  • Co-chairman, Research events at University of Oxford on Water and Membranes

    2006 - 2006

  • Major contributions to discussion panels on global water issues , Includes "Home Planet" and "The Material World" for BBC radio 4

    0 - Present

  • Chair of Advisory Board, King Abdul Aziz University, Centre of Excellence in Desalination Technology (CEDT)

    2010 - 2011

  • Scientific Advisor, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    2008 - 2009

  • Visiting Professor, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

    2013 - 2013

  • Member, Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Panel

    2013 - 2016

  • Senior Research Director, Qatar Foundation

    2014 - 2016

  • Chairman, 2nd International Conference on Desalination and Environment

    2016 - 2016

  • Chairman, 2nd International Conference on Desalination Using membrane tech

    2015 - 2015

  • Executive Chair, International Conference on Application of Nanotechnology

    2013 - 2013

  • PAC member, The Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC)

    2004 - Present

  • Member of Advisors Board , Arab Healthy Water Association (AHWA)

    2004 - Present

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Director - Centre for Water Advanced Technologies and Environmental Research (CWATER)

    2010 - Present

Awards And Prizes

Date Description
2005 Doctor of Science Degree (DSc), Swansea University
2003 Elected Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE)
2005 Prestigious Kuwait Prize of Applied Science for Water Resources Development
2013 Elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW)
1997 Registered European Engineer (Euro Ing)


  • Water, water everywhere? The Telegraph, 20th  June 2014.
  • The Water Challenge – Why Desalination Technology. The Environmental Technology Online,        5th  June 2014.
  • Interview with Sky news Arabia on 15th January 2013.
  • Interview with Utilities Middle East Magazine on “The membrane Advantage”. July 2012.    
  • His work has been chosen to be on show at British Museum (Science Museum). “Water Wars: Fight the food crisis”. Launched October 2011
  • Interviewed by the Royal Society of Chemistry for their newsletter “InfoChem”, issue 129 “Water for Life”, June 2011.
  • Interview with Okaz newspaper, Saudi Arabia, published in September 2009.
  • Interview with BBC Radio 4. “Material World” Programme, broadcast on 15th June 2006. Discussion about Desalination, water re-use and the proposed plant on the Thames
  • Interview with Vision Magazine, published by the University of Nottingham. April 2006
  • Interview with Arab Economics newspaper “Al-Iqtissadia”. Volume 257, 6th August 2006
  • Interview with BBC Radio 4. “Home Planet” Programme, broadcast on 20th July 2004.