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Environmental remediation of persistent organic pollutants, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances


   Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

   Friday, July 22, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

PFAS are a group of >4,700 man-made chemicals used across a range of applications such as fire-fighting foams, waterproofing for clothes, and non-stick cookware, among others. The properties of PFASs, due to their high number of fluorine atoms, leads to unique behaviour and stability which were sought after commercial properties. But these properties also mean that PFAS are extremely difficult to remove from the environment using conventional water or soil treatment technologies. PFAS are also bioaccumulative and harmful to human and animal health.

At Surrey, in collaboration with Arcadis, we have developed sonolysis (the use of ultrasonic waves to break down a substance) to treat PFAS. Sonolysis uses sound waves at frequencies generally between 20 kHz to 1 MHz to facilitate cavitation bubbles in water. The bubbles collapse during compression cycles, and significant energy is released in the form of point sources of extreme heat and plasma-like conditions. Sonolysis is one of the most promising technologies to remove PFAS from our environment, however for application to contaminated soils and waters, needs coupling with other technologies. This PhD will aim to adress PFAS treatment challenges in the environment. 

Supervisor: Dr Madeleine Bussemaker

This project is open to students with UK, EU pre-settled or settled status or indefinite leave to remain starting in October 2022.

Entry requirements

Home student (UK, EU pre-settled or settled status, indefinite leave to remain) with a 2:1 or better.

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

How to apply

This is a multi-disciplinary program with potential for more than 1 candidate, hence good candidates from chemistry, physics, environmental sciences or chemical engineering (or related disciplines) with willingness to learn will be considered. Please send CV and cover letter to .

Please also submit an application via the Chemical and Process Engineering PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.


Funding Notes

UKRI stipend (e.g. £16,062 for 2022/23), home fees covered (for students with UK, EU pre-settled or settled status or indefinite leave to remain), £3,000 Research Training Support Grant and £3,000 Bench fees. Funding is for 3.5 years. Funded by the EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme and the University of Surrey.

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