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Modelling biochar-colloids fate and transport in the subsurface

   School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

   Sunday, July 31, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Groundwater and soil pollution is a cause of concern for drinking-water sources, as toxic chemicals continue to contaminate subsurface reservoirs via wastewater, agricultural runoff, storm water, air pollution, and polluted soils. Various alternative options for water remediation technologies, based on the use of advanced materials to adsorb pollutants, have been developed recently. Among them, biochar (BC), namely biomass-derived charcoal has been recognised as being effective in treating a wide range of pollutants typically occurring in drinking water.

BC materials have shown to be sustainable, cost-effective, and a promising technology for water and soil applications, by increasing potential for environmental benefits, e.g., enhancing carbon sequestration, nutrient retention, water holding capacity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bioavailability of environmental contaminants. However, colloidal and nanoscale BC particles have not only an affinity with pollutants but also the potential to be transported through porous media by water flow, especially after a rainfall event. Therefore BC colloids can pose a potential risk.

The aims are to develop prediction and decision tools to determine the impact of the use of biochar in the subsurface over time.

New knowledge will be generated on the mechanisms governing water flow and transport of colloids and pollutants from the vadose zone to groundwater, physico-chemical interaction with soil and biodegradation of biochar in the long term.

This will also: (i) provide additional data on the development of water/soil remediation technologies; (ii) elaborate future strategies to protect supplies from contamination; (iii) contribute to the sustainable management and conservation of resources while reducing environmental impact.

The project's research will benefit UK farming, water industry and other commercial private sector stakeholders. 


Dr Imma Bortone


Applicants should have a first-class or second-class UK honors degree/master’s in environmental or civil engineering, environmental science, mathematics, hydrogeology or a related disciplines. Previous research experience in environmental modelling or laboratory experiments will be advantageous.

UK home applicants are eligible for this funding. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK.

How to Apply

For information contact: Dr Imma Bortone

Name: Imma Bortone                       


T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 4819

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.

Funding Notes

Sponsored by EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Funding, in collaboration with University of Technology of Compiegne (UTC) and UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH).
This scholarship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000* p.a. plus fees for three years.
*To be classed as a UK/Home applicant, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

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