Chaolei Yuan

Chaolei Yuan has travelled over 7,000 kilometres to study Australian soil. A recipient of a China Scholarship – offered jointly by the University of Adelaide and the China Scholarship Council – he joined the University in 2012 with a Master of Science and passion for nature.

His research focuses on acid sulphate soils, which are of great environmental concern here in Australia. Acid sulphate soils contain iron sulphides, and after disturbance these soils can be oxidised, releasing significant amounts of acid and toxic metals into surrounding soil and water. The resulting toxins have the potential to cause damage to our wildlife and waterways.

Chaolei is researching ways to remediate these soils with the addition of organic matter. In his first three experiments, plant straw was mixed into the soil to increase soil pH by stimulating sulfate reduction after flooding. His current experiments extend this theme, using organic matter to prevent the oxidation or acidification of acid sulfate soils.

The ultimate goal of his PhD is to help land owners, natural resource managers and environment protection authorities gain a better understanding of how to manage acid sulfate soils. Chaolei is already having success in this area: as a result of his research, South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority is planning to conduct a field trial in Murray Bridge to remediate acid sulfate soils.

His research was published in the ‘Journal of Environmental Management’ and presented in the 4th National Acid Sulfate Soil Conference.

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Faculty of Sciences

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