Donald W. Kirk

Donald KirkProfessor
B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc., Ph.D., P.Eng.Room: WB246 | Tel.: 416-978-7406 | Email:


Excellence in Research Faculty Award, Ont. Min. Environment


Professional Engineers of Ontario
Electrochemical Society
National Association of Corrosion Engineers

Research Interests

Electrochemical and Environmental Engineering

Resource Recovery: There is increasing economic and public pressure on industries to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill.rejected solids and liquids. The technology for treating these complex wastesmaterial streams does not often exist and requires fundamental research to characterize the chemical and physical properties of the wasterejected material before suitable unit operations can be designed. Wastes that have been studied include flyash, steel flue dusts, sulphite scrubbing solids and aqueous phenolic and cyanide effluents, tailings ponds residues and biomaterial residues.

Hydrometallurgical research involves the study of extraction, separation and recovery of metal values from ores, by-products and wastes. The driving force for this work is the increasing emphasis, because of environmental regulations, on waste reduction and recycling. Electroorganic work requires the activation of weakly or nonpolar species through the use of imposed potential fields and relies on the use of specific very high surface area electrodes, typically in a packed bed configuration for uniform potential distribution. Electrochemical oxidations often mirror organic degradation processes in the environment but have the advantage of much more rapid initiation, ease of control and immunity to bacteriocidal action.

With all electrochemical and environmental research, the electrolyte-electrode interface is of fundamental importance, since this is the region of electron transfer. Significant advances to electrochemical processing are being made through the use of chemically modified electrode surfaces, the control of electrode composition and by the design of the surface structure and configuration. Thus the research conducted is multidisciplinary and combines engineering with fundamental science.

Selected Patent/Publications

S. Ghobrial, K. M. Cole,*, D. W. Kirk, and S. J. Thorpe. (2019) Characterization of Amorphous Ni-Nb-Y Nanoparticles for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction Produced through Surfactant-Assisted Ball Milling. Electrocatalysis. 10: 243–252.

Patent Application Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Utilization: An economical route for utilizing large volumes of captured CO2. The discovery is of an electrochemical process route that avoids the high energy costs of CO2 reduction by focusing on coupling CO2 with a low value organic byproduct to produce a high value commodity chemical. The electrochemical energy cost is less than 5% of the product value.

Daniel Yanchus, Donald Kirk, Charles Jia. (2018). Investigating the Effects of Biochar Electrode Macrostructure and Dimension on Electrical Double-Layer Capacitor Performance. Journal of the Electrochemical Society. 65(2): A305-A313.

P.C.Cheung, *, D.R. Williams, D.W.Kirk. (2018). A Novel Application of Pourbaix Diagrams for the ad Hoc Prediction of Thermodynamic Behavior of Plutonium in Aquatic Environments. American Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 2018; 5(2): 24-33 ISSN: 2381-1153 (Print); ISSN: 2381-1161

P. Cheung, D.R.Williams, D.W. Kirk, J.Barker. (2018). Minimization of Energy Wastage in the Electrochemical Recovery of Copper from Its EDTA Complexes in Wastewaters. American Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science. 5(3): 56-71.

Zuliani, J.E., Tong, S., Jia, C.Q., Kirk, D.W. (2018). Contribution of surface oxygen groups to the measured capacitance of porous carbon supercapacitors. Journal of Power Sources. 395: 271-279.

Foong Y.W., Kirk D.W., Thorpe S.J., Lian K. (2018). Borotungstic acid – polyacrylamide solid electrolytes for electrochemical capacitors with H3PO4 plasticizer. Materials Science and Engineering B. 229: 96-104.

P. Cheung, D.R. Williams, D.W. Kirk, J. Barker. (2018). Chemical Feasibility of Chlorine Dioxide as an Extractant of Transition Metals from Chelated Complexes in Wastewaters for Recycling and Reuse. American Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science. 5(3): 39-55.

Chenyu Liu, Zechao Qiu, Dawei Yu, Donald W. Kirk, and Yongjun Xu. (2017). Fabrication of Porous Silicon Carbide Ceramics with High Electromagnetic Interference Shielding Effectiveness. Energy Technology & Environmental Science. 2: 11131-11136.

Gabhi R., Kirk DW, Jia CQ. (2017). “Preliminary Investigation of Electrical Conductivity of Monolithic Biochar”. Carbon. 116: 435-442.

J.Zuliani, C.Q. Jia and D.W. Kirk. (2017). Elucidating the Impact of Pore Structure in Determining Double Layer Capacitance of nanoporous Carbon Materials. Journal of Physical Chemistry Part C. 121(38): 20555–20566.