In situ biological removal of nutrients in drinking water using borehole-based treatment media

   Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

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  Prof Steve Thornton, Dr S A Rolfe, Prof Owen Fenton  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Groundwater pollution by nitrate and other nutrients is an important problem worldwide, with the main source being organic or inorganic inputs from agriculture. This can result in long-term pollution of drinking water, with loss of a valuable resource. Treatment methods for such problems should be low-technology, low-cost, practical to apply and community-based to be sustainable, particularly in rural areas. The proposed project will develop and field-test a novel in situ approach to treat groundwater contaminated by nutrients using devices installed in drinking water boreholes. In brief the device is installed vertically within a borehole and contains low-cost natural materials designed to enhance the biotransformation and removal of nitrate as the groundwater is pumped from the borehole. Using an appropriate engineering and process design the treatment efficiency can be optimised for different contaminant loads to provide treated water at the point of use. The research requires lab studies to understand the relevant biogeochemical processes involved, investigate different treatment media and field-scale pilot tests to evaluate the performance for different operational conditions.

Interested candidates should apply online via the weblink: should submit a research proposal with their online application, based on the project description, that outlines the background to the research, proposed research questions and the methodology that you would follow to complete itFor information and informal enquiries contact: Prof Steven Thornton ([Email Address Removed]).

Applications can be made at any time. This post will remain open until filled.

Funding Notes

This project is open to all self-funded candidates. There is no funding attached to this position and applicants will need to identify appropriate funding to support themselves. It is a multidisciplinary project in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sheffield, UK, and the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland. Suitable candidates should have at least a 2:1 honours degree and/or an MSc in environmental engineering, environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, environmental science or geoscience.


Candidates should provide the names and contact details of two academic referees.
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