Securing drinking water supplies: the role of organic matter on water treatability PhD

6 days left

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

Enhance funded opportunity: Securing drinking water supplies: the role of organic matter on water treatability PhD

This exciting fully funded PhD, with an enhanced stipend of £19,000 per annum, will deliver innovative science to meet future water resource challenges, ensuring that we can continue to produce high quality drinking water. Focusing on water treatment, this research project will help develop strategies that will increase the resilience of drinking water supplies in the UK against a back-drop of population growth and climate change impacts.

The East and South-East of the UK face acute challenges associated with their drinking water supply-demand balance as a region of low rainfall and an area where significant population growth is expected in the next 20 years. This has resulted in the development of comprehensive water resource management plans.

Complex water transfers will be required that will include resources that are more challenging to treat and contain pollutants that may require more extensive water treatment. For example, the organic carbon content of a drinking water source is known to change temporally and spatially and as such water transfers will invariably result in blends of water that contain different types of organic matter that have different removal potentials by usual treatment processes.

Understanding the characteristics of source waters will therefore be of paramount importance in effectively managing and treating new resources and blends. In this work you will undertake operationally relevant characterisation of water using a range of cutting-edge methods to develop organic matter profiles and fingerprints. You will then undertake detailed treatment investigations at bench and pilot scale to understand how these water quality profiles link to treatment mechanism and process selection.

The aim of this work will therefore be to determine the features of organic matter in surface water that controls their removal in water treatment processes. This will allow for proactive management of water treatment systems to make more informed decisions on water blending and transfers, as well as future WTW operation and treatment process selection.


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 chemistry or chemical engineering. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of water chemistry and water treatment. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in applied scientific research. Prior experience in the water sector would be advantageous but is not essential.

Start date: 27 Sep 2021

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021

Duration of award: 4 years