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Designing low-cost sensing technologies for particles and gases to control the indoor–outdoor interface and minimise indoor airborne pollution

   Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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  Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof P Kumar  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Airborne pollutants flow continuously between indoors and outdoors. Outward flow – of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), human-emitted CO2, and pathogens for example – maintains clean air indoors; but VOCs and other domestic emissions may affect outdoor air quality, perhaps raising ozone (O3) and secondary organic-aerosol concentrations. Inward flow may compromise indoor air quality directly, bringing in pollutants like particulate matter (PM), UFPs (<0.1 µm), black carbon, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and O3, or indirectly with oxidants like OH or NO3 radicals, and O3 – interacting with indoor materials to generate secondary pollutants such as UFPs and formaldehyde. Of particular concern are pollutants from combustion (urban traffic, bushfire smoke), regional haze, dust re-suspended from surfaces (deserts, mining operations, roadworks), indoor combustion sources, and oxidants such as O3. While energy-transition efforts are slowly reducing pollution from transport, bushfire and dust storms are forecast to increase with climate change. Routine indoor air-pollution measure­ment is neglected, though there have been some advances in sensing technologies.

Objectives and outcomes

  1. Identify a minimum pollutant set as proxy for overall exposure to indoor air pollution.
  2. Design sensing methods and networks for routine quantification of the selected pollutants, indoors and outdoors simult­ane­ously.
  3. Devise a pollution data interpretation approach to distinguish outdoor versus indoor origin.


Professor Lidia Morawska, Professor Prashant Kumar


GCARE is a multidisciplinary centre that was founded and directed by Professor Kumar. Its research is supported through a wide range of UKRI (e.g., NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, Innovate UK), H2020, industrial and international (e.g., FAPESP Brazil, QNRF Qatar) grants. With the mission to realise ‘clean air for all’, GCARE’s Air Quality Lab is well-equipped with a wide range of experimental facilities/equipment (e.g. ENVILUTION® chamber for sensor evaluation; portable PM and gaseous measurement equipment) and large body of research developed in the topic area to support the advertised project.

The group is led by Professor Kumar. Professor Morawska is a Surrey Vice-Chancellor Fellow attached to the GCARE.

Entry requirements

Open to UK students starting in October 2022.

GCARE has a multidisciplinary team where researchers from all backgrounds are most welcome. This project will be suitable for a student with a degree in science (atmospheric, physics, chemistry, mathematics, geoscience or material Science), engineering (environmental, civil, mechanical, chemical, computer), or a closely related environmental/physical science discipline. Some experience of physicochemical characterisation of particles and data analysis would be extremely useful.

English language requirements: IELTS Academic 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in writing, or equivalent. More about our English language requirements.

How to apply

The interested candidates are requested to send their CV directly to Professor Prashant Kumar ([Email Address Removed]). Upon his confirmation, you are welcome to make a formal application through the Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD programme page.

The interested candidates are requested to send their CV directly to Professor Lidia Morawska ([Email Address Removed]) and copy to Professor Prashant Kumar ([Email Address Removed]). The deadline for making an application is 22 July 2022.

Funding Notes

The studentship funding covers academic fees for UK students. You will receive a standard stipend of £16,062 per annum to cover your living expenses. Additional funding will be made available to present your work at a conference and for project-related costs. Funded by the University of Surrey DTP. Funding is for 3.5 years.


Facilities at the GCARE’s Air Quality Lab: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/global-centre-clean-air-research/air-quality-lab
Guildford Living Lab: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/global-centre-clean-air-research/guildford-living-lab
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