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Innovative technologies for the removal of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ from water MSc by Research

   School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

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  Dr Tao Lyu, Prof Frederic Coulon, Dr F Hassard  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This exciting fully funded MSc by Research opportunity is sponsored by Nextech Ltd. and Anglian Water, with a stipend of £18,000 per annum (plus fees). This project will develop strategies and validate innovative materials to remove PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances), often called ‘forever chemicals’, from water. This research requires fundamental science to look at the adsorption mechanisms for PFAS removal toward a sustainable and secure water future. The successful candidate will work closely with industrial partners under the supervision of a world-leading research team. Please note, we will interview as applications come in and start this project right after confirming a suitable candidate.

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a wide group of environmentally persistent organic compounds of industrial origin, which are of great concern due to their harmful impact on human health and longevity in ecosystems. Because of their extreme persistence in the environment, PFAS are often referred to as the ‘forever chemicals’. Due to the toxicological effects of PFAS, their production is restricted in many countries, but they are still used in consumer goods such as carpets, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics. Guidelines from the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which covers England and Wales, state drinking water must contain PFAS chemicals at no more than 100 nanograms per litre (ng/L). Traditional biological processes have proven ineffective for degrading PFAS in water treatment, therefore, other approaches, such as adsorption, anion-exchange, and high-pressure membrane processes have been tested and shown variable performance for PFAS treatment. Adsorption processes are considered to be one of the more economical approaches compared to other methodologies. 

This project aims 1) to evaluate and validate the innovative product for the removal of PFAS, and 2) to understand the removal mechanisms, including kinetics, selectivity and reusability of the material. 

Cranfield University is a solely postgraduate university within the UK which is research-intensive and engages closely with innovative research involving industry. The Centre for Water, Environment and Development within the School of Water, Energy and Environment hosts one of the largest groups of water scientists actively involved in researching, enhancing and helping to implement advanced water treatment technologies on the ground. Nextech Ltd. (UK) and Anglian Water will act as industry partners for this project. Nextech Ltd. (UK) has developed an innovative material, named NextsandTM. This material has been tested for the removal of various pollutants, including ammonia, phosphorus, and FOG (Fats, oils, and grease) for water and wastewater treatment. Anglian Water is one of the largest water unities in the UK and supplies clean water and water recycling services to more than six million customers in England. The student will work closely with these two industries and evaluate the innovative materials for PFAS removal from the water towards a sustainable and secure water future.

This project will provide an opportunity to gather new insights using innovative adsorbents to treat PFAS-contaminated water. This will be important to overcome the current technology challenges for removing such ‘forever chemicals’ in water and potentially provide a cost-efficient approach for water sectors. Full training will be provided and there may also be an opportunity to test/deploy the proposed strategy in the field-scale system to determine viability, providing a rich experience for the successful candidate in driving innovation through to market.

On top of the sponsored stipend and fees, we will encourage and support the student to participate in at least one international/national conference to disseminate the output and build up academic relationships. Specific laboratory skills training, such as wastewater treatment technology (water and wastewater engineering) and water quality analysis (environmental chemistry), will be provided. The student will also be trained to write peer-reviewed publications, and project reports to industry partners. The industrial partners will provide feedback on the project report/presentation, which could guide the student to develop research ideas that address the real needs of water utilities. In addition to the transferrable skills programme (communication, project management and leadership) on offer at Cranfield, the candidate will work with their academic supervisors to tailor a personal development plan based on experience, and career aspirations. At the end of the project the successful applicant will be very well positioned to have a highly successful career in the water sector or an academic role. 

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in Environmental Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering or a related discipline.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for the MSc by Research, please complete the online application form stating the reference No. SWEE0201

For further information please contact:

Dr Tao Lyu E: [Email Address Removed]


T: +44 (0)1234 758082 E: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Sponsored by Nextech Ltd. and Anglian Water, this studentship will cover home student fees, a stipend of approximately £18,000 (tax free) per year for one year and support of research expenses.
This studentship is available to both UK and International students, however, the extra overseas student fee needs to be covered by the student or a third party. The eligibility for a Home/International student and the fees.
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