Development of small scale, low-cost, energy efficient biofilter systems for water treatment

A PhD studentship opportunity in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol, supported by a living stipend and tuition fees at Home/ EU rates.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 July 2018.

About the studentship

This PhD is in partnership with Clear Water Revival Ltd and the main aim is to design, develop and fabricate a small-scale, low-cost, low-energy microbial biofilter system (building on existing CWR technology) water treatment applications. Commercial CWR systems were developed to maintain swimming pool water quality, by controlling residual nutrient concentrations and removing waterborne pathogenic microorganisms. This project will investigate the use of beneficial biofilms coupled with Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MEC) within modified and miniaturised CWR bio filtration systems, for a range of water treatment and resource recovery applications.

  • Work stream 1: Various water sources (natural/artificial surface and wastewater) will be treated using CWR systems fabricated in a range of small-scale geometries, allowing various flow rates, water retention times and modular capabilities.
  • Work stream 2: A laboratory model system will be designed, developed and built to enable functional control of the microbial biofilm, coupled with MEC capabilities, enabling a range of variables to be tested to optimise bio filtration.
  • Work stream 3: The CWR biofiltration technology is reliant on the extraction, breakdown and partial bioaccumulation of particulate or soluble organic and inorganic compounds from within the source water. This presents an opportunity to recover valuable nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates for fertilisers. This work stream will identify and quantify the products that bio-accumulate within the bio-filter and assess the best methods for extraction and recovery of target compounds.

These work streams will allow the fabrication of a robust and optimised small scale bioreactor (ideally for off-grid water treatment potentially to drinking water standards) based on end-user input. This will be based on known rates of waste utilisation, elemental cycling (for C, N, P, S, Mg, K), use of water and/or running costs of chemicals, electrical energy supply and commercial scale-up.

This PhD project would suit a dynamic individual capable of interacting and working closely with our industrial partner Clear Water Revival Ltd. This work will require excellent communication and microbiological skills. The student will be based within the Centre for Research in Biosciences at UWE, Bristol but with opportunity to work closely with Clear Water Revival Ltd.

Funding details

The studentship will start on 1 October 2018 and consists of an annual tax-free stipend of £14,777, subject to satisfactory progress, for three years. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for the length of the funding period.

The studentship will only fully fund applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees. Applicants who are normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates.

Eligibility criteria

Essential Criteria:

  • A minimum of a good honours degree (minimum of upper second class honours degree) in a relevant scientific discipline (e.g. Microbiology, Biological Sciences).
  • Experience in the use of microbiological techniques for investigating biofilms.
  • Demonstrable practical laboratory experience.
  • A recognised English language qualification is required. 

Desirable Criteria:

  • Good communication skills.
  • Full clean UK driving licence.
  • To have recently undertaken a relevant research project (e.g. biofilms) at UG or PG level.
  • A demonstrable interest in water quality and experience of working/interacting with small medium enterprises and/or other organisations.

How to apply

Download and complete the Graduate School studentship application form and send it directly to the UWE Bristol Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake, and detail why you are interested in undertaking this PhD project and what relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications you would bring to the research. Please see the Graduate School studentship application guidance notes for further information about how to complete the application form.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities monitoring form and complete the first section of the Graduate School application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Darren Reynolds

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 July 2018.

Further information

If you have not heard from us by 17 August 2018, we thank you for your application, but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

The start date of this PhD studentship is 1 October 2018.

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