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New methods for removal of pollutants from water

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

About the Project

Emerging pollutants have been linked to adverse effects in humans and wildlife, such species e.g. metaldehyde as a persistent pesticide, as well as pentabromobiphenylether, 4-nonylphenol, C10-C13 chloroalkanes and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, which are listed as priority hazardous substances by the EU (refs: EC Water Directive 2000/60/EC and the final EU decision No. 2455/2001/EC).

Environmental levels continue to increase but previous research on these emergent pollutants is limited; however, as they are beginning to increase in prevalence, and their biological impacts are realised, new methods are required to effect their removal. Building upon current research within the Fletcher group this project proposes the development of novel sorbent materials for the removal of persistent organic species, identified as emergent pollutants, from water process streams, including groundwater supplies. The group has recently developed a solid bed system for the removal of metaldehyde from water using cost-effective solid sorbents [1] and methods to address rising levels of endocrine disruptors in water streams [2-3]; this project will build on this solid base to address the issue of key emerging pollutants.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

Funding Notes

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates will be eligible to be considered for a University scholarship.

Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.


[1] Tao B, Fletcher A. Development of a novel dual-stage method for metaldehyde removal from water. Chemical Engineering Journal. 2016; 284:741-9.
[2] Tasca, A.L., Ghajeri, F., Fletcher, A.J. Novel hydrophilic and hydrophobic amorphous silica: characterization and adsorption of aqueous phase organic compounds. Adsorption Science & Technology. 2017; 1-21.
[3] Tasca, A.L., Fletcher, A. State of the art of the environmental behaviour and removal techniques of the endocrine disruptor 3,4-dichloroaniline, Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A. 2017.

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