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Curtin PhD student to reduce carbon footprint one step at a time

Media release

Curtin University PhD student, Christiane Vitzthum von Eckstaedt, has developed a technology to distinguish sources of major pollutants in the environment, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including emissions.

Under the guidance of Professor Kliti Grice, Director of Curtin’s WA Centre for Organic and Isotope Geochemistry, international student and CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment scholarship recipient, Mrs Vitzthum von Eckstaedt, said the findings would be used to further develop tracing of VOCs back to their original source(s).

Mrs Vitzthum von Eckstaedt said her research involved chemically identifying and analysing compounds via stable isotope analysis in complex mixtures, allowing scientists to potentially distinguish between the origins of VOCs.

“By understanding and tracing these sources, we can further understand the processes, such as controlled burnings for fire prone areas and car exhaust emissions, to significantly reduce their impact on the environment and our health,” Ms Vitzthum von Eckstaedt said.

“This research will also help to assist prevention of environmental impacts and will allow us to take action on our carbon footprint.”

Mrs Vitzthum von Eckstaedt said the method and development for her research was extensive and provided enormous potential.

“When you relate the source of the compounds, you can learn more about the fate of VOCs which is where we will be putting our efforts for the next step of this research,” she said.

“Once we achieve this step, we can apply the tracing of sources to a range of environmental VOCs.”

The study authors have three papers under review in the international Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, Journal of Chromatography A and Atmospheric Environment.

Media contact:

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mobile: 0401 103 755, Email: