Applied biotechnology to enhance resilience of wastewater treatment plants PhD

Cranfield, Bedford
26 May 2021
30 Jun 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

Enhanced funded opportunity: Applied biotechnology to enhance resilience of wastewater treatment plants PhD       

This exciting fully funded PhD, with an enhanced stipend of £19,000 per annum, will deliver feasible options to convert the dissolved methane to carbon dioxide or short chain fatty acids using a range of biological processes, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment. This is of special relevance in the application of anaerobic processes producing biogas but with limited opportunities for converting it into energy. Greenhouse gas emissions abatement from anaerobic processes is key to achieving NET-ZERO targets. This project will help inform operational mitigations and investment decisions to be made by Water Industry.

This project investigates options to convert the dissolved methane to carbon dioxide or short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and reduce GHG. Such an approach will effectively align anaerobic wastewater treatment with NET-ZERO targets and SCFA are valuable chemicals that can be used to produce a range of added value products. Furthermore, this opens an opportunity to increase the effluent quality from anaerobic processes, by promoting increased nutrient, solids and carbon removal.


The Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (WIRe CDT) is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and companies who sponsor research projects to train 60 PhD students to deliver a resilient water future.

Globally, one in four cities is facing water stress, and the projected demand for water in 2050 is set to increase by 55%. Placing an inspirational student experience at the centre of our delivery model, the Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will nurture a new generation of research leaders to provide the multi-disciplinary, disruptive thinking to enhance the resilience of new and existing water infrastructure. In this context, the CDT will seek to improve the resilience of water infrastructure which conveys and treats water and wastewater as well as the impacts of water on other infrastructure systems which provide vital public services in urban environments.

The need for the CDT is simple: water infrastructure is fundamental to our society and economy in providing benefit from water as a vital resource and in managing risks from water hazards, such as wastewater, floods, droughts and environmental pollution. Recent water infrastructure failures caused by climate change have provided strong reminders of our need to manage these assets against the forces of nature. The need for resilient water systems has never been greater and more recognised in the context of our industrial infrastructure networks and facilities for water supply, wastewater treatment and urban drainage. Similarly, safeguarding critical infrastructure in key sectors such as transport, energy and waste from the impacts of water has never been more important.

Centred around unique and world-leading water infrastructure facilities, and building on an internationally-renowned research consortium (Cranfield University, the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University), the CDT will produce scientists and engineers to deliver the innovative and disruptive thinking for a resilient water infrastructure future. This will be achieved through delivery of an inspirational and relevant and end user-led training programme for researchers.

Being a PhD student in the WIRe programme is a special and unique experience, offering opportunities beyond most doctoral training. In return you will need to be fully committed to the CDT, attending an induction semester at Cranfield University, a transferable skills programme and a Summer Challenge. 

Our partners are drawn from a range of leading sector and professional organisations and have been selected to provide targeted contributions and added value to the CDT.


Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a minimum equivalent to a UK upper second class degree (2.1) and preferably an MSc in a relevant subject such as engineering, biology, biotechnology, environmental science or chemistry. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of wastewater analysis. The candidate should be self-motivated, have excellent oral and written communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in applied scientific research. Prior knowledge of biochemistry and gas-liquid mass transfer processes and experience on bioreactor operation would be advantageous but it is not essential.

Start date: 27 Sep 2021

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021

Duration of award: 4 years

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