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Development of a Novel Osmotic Membrane Bioreactor for Energy-Neutral Wastewater Treatment

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  • Full or part time
    Dr X Jin
    Prof W Sloan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

The United Nations estimates that the world produces around 1,500 cubic kilometers of wastewater annually, of which more than 80% is untreated. On average, treating 1 m3 of sewage consumes ~0.5-0.6 kWh of energy, ranking the fourth most energy intensive sector in the UK. With the increasing concern over declining quality of natural water bodies, greenhouse gas emission and the escalating price of fossil fuels, the conventional paradigm of sewage treatment needs a step-change. There is a rapidly expanding global water market in creating and delivering low energy and environmentally sustainable sewage treatment technologies which are required not only for enhanced treatment efficiency but also resource exploitation.

Compared to energy-intensive aerobic counterparts, anaerobic sewage treatment processes are more attractive due to their low energy consumption and sludge production and their production of bioenergy. However, it is crucial to pre-concentrate dilute sewage before anaerobic digestion in order to achieve improved treatment efficiency and energy recovery.

In this project, we propose to develop a novel osmotic membrane bioreactor for energy-neutral anaerobic wastewater treatment. The novelty of the technology is that we get nature to work for us by using forward osmosis (FO) membrane filtration, an emerging water treatment technology. The whole system is highly attractive in terms of treating wastewater to meet the further stringent water quality standards, reduced footprint and reduced energy costs. More importantly, it has the potential to make sewage treatment a net energy producer.

Water & Environment Research Group at the University of Glasgow provides a unique opportunity to be part of international leading research at the interface of biological and environmental engineering. The student will also receive training and skills in bioreactor design/operation, advanced characterization techniques and analytical methods for environmental analysis.

Applicants should have a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent in Environmental Engineering, Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering or related discipline. The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated, be goal oriented and have good writing and communication skills. An enthusiasm for innovation and speculative thinking is particularly encouraged. A master degree in a relevant subject would be advantageous but is not essential.

Funding Notes

CREW is a developing partnership between the James Hutton Institute and all Scottish Higher Education Institutes, supported by MASTS. The Centre is funded by the Scottish Government. Funding available will be in line with the Research Councils UK doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. The PhD will be registerd with The University of Glasgow.
This is a competition based programme, therefore, candidates are urged strongly to apply as soon as possible so as to stand the best chance of success


Jin, X.; Shan, J.; Wang, C.; Wei, J. and Tang, C.Y. Rejection of Pharmaceuticals by Forward Osmosis Membranes. Journal of Hazardous Materials 2012, 227–228, 55-61
Jin, X.; She, Q.; Ang, X.L. and Tang, C.Y. Removal of Boron and Arsenic by Forward Osmosis Membrane: Influence of Membrane Orientation and Organic Fouling. Journal of Membrane Science 2012, 389, 182-187
She, Q.; Jin, X. and Tang, C.Y. Osmotic Power Production from Salinity Gradient Resource by Pressure Retarded Osmosis: Effects of Operating Conditions and Reverse Solute Diffusion. Journal of Membrane Science 2012, 401-402, 262-273
She, Q.; Jin, X.; Li, Q. and Tang, C.Y. Relating Reverse and Forward Solute Diffusion to Membrane Fouling in Osmotically Driven Membrane Processes. Water Research 2012, 46, 2478-2486
Jin, X.; Tang, C.Y.; Gu, Y.; She, Q. and Qi, S. Boric Acid Permeation in Forward Osmosis Membrane Processes: Modeling, Experiments, and Implications. Environmental Science and Technology 2011, 45, 2323–2330

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