Industrial activities, urbanization, and a growing population are resulting in increasing amounts of a diverse range of chemicals into surface waters. Treatment at Wastewater Treatment Plants (WwTPs) are usually energy intensive and face significant difficulties as these were not initially designed to handle such complex mixture of chemicals, making it challenging to develop a one-size-fits-all solution. The presence of chemical pollutants in surface waters have been correlated with discharges at WwTPs compromising the health of aquatic ecosystems, emphasizing the urgency for more effective water treatment approaches.
The aim of the project is to develop viable combined photocatalytic-biodegradation processes for in situ degradation of chemical pollutants in effluent waters from diffuse and point-sources. Optimisations will include the design of a photocatalytic-bioreactor considering factors such as material selection, aeration requirements, choice of bioelectrochemical components, combination of bioelectrochemical pre- and post-treatment of photocatalytic reactors. Novel hybrid composites, such as nanocellulose-titanium dioxide, will be developed as photocatalysts to improve affinity to organic pollutant. Nanocellulose, due to its biocompatibility, high surface area, and ability to form gels or films, can serve as a potential supportive matrix for microbial growth and biofilm formation, in the bioreactors. The coupled photocatalytic-bioreactor would aid in the more efficient degradation of especially recalcitrant compounds or transformation products thus contributing to a more thorough treatment of effluents. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) as a fingerprinting tool will be explored to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the tandem reactor. The obtained results will be cross-verified using LC-MS/MS and GC-MS techniques. The photocatalytic-bio reactor will be tested in effluent discharges from hospitals, discharges from various waste streams of whisky, food & drink industries.
We are looking for a highly motivated individual with a desire to work in this area of research focusing on novel advanced techniques for chemical pollutant treatment. We seek someone who is hands-on, self-driven and capable of steering the development and trajectory of their project. Applicants should have a good background in areas related to photocatalysis and/or electrochemical processes. Knowledge of chemical pollutants, their treatments in waste discharges, water management will be an advantage. Some statistical or programming skills for data analysis, would be beneficial. UK and international applicants are welcome to apply.
Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline.
Applicants must send a completed Hydro Nation Scholarship application form and their Curriculum Vitae to Dr. Sandhya Devalla, Sandhya.Devalla@hutton.ac.uk by the final submission deadline of 10th January 2024.