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Numerical Simulation of Sustainable Anaerobic Baffled Reactors for Wastewater Treatment

Project Description

Diseases that originate in poor sanitary conditions cause 2.1M deaths every year. This situation particularly affects developing countries, as indicated by UNICEF and WHO, with only 56% of the population having access to sanitation facilities in 2010. Although the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for access to improved drinking water sources has been met, progress towards achieving adequate sanitation has been dismal. In developing regions of the world, on average 85% of the discharged sewage is untreated.

From the two biologically-based wastewater treatment processes, anaerobic methods have many advantages over conventional aerobic methods. Anaerobic baffled reactors (ABR) are described as a series of septic tanks in which wastewater is forced to flow under and over of a series of vertical baffles (compartments). Their main advantage is their capacity to maximise the reaction rate for high loads of polluted, mixed outflows in a reduced volume, enhancing mixing through a meandering geometry and baffled compartments and a disposition of gas reactors.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) are an ideal tool to explore new designs of complex systems, but it is not until recently that turbulent mixing and multi-phase interaction can be predicted accurately. The aim of this project is to enhance our understanding of the multi-phase turbulent flow structure as well as the characteristics of the biochemical reactions in ABRs by developing a pre-existing numerical in-house code. This knowledge will in turn be used to explore conceptual design of optimum ABRs for wastewater treatment.

PhD candidate specification:

The Department of Civil Engineering welcomes applications from excellent students with a civil, mechanical, chemical, or environmental engineering background. Students must have a minimum of a good (>65%) upper second-class or higher UK degree (or an equivalent qualification) in one of these or a closely related subject. Successful applicants will be creative and motivated to carry out interdisciplinary research. A background in Computational Fluid Dynamics and basic coding skills (e.g., MATLAB, FORTRAN, C++, Python) are essential. Basic understanding/experience of laboratory procedures and biological chemistry is not essential but would be desirable.

Funding Notes

For home and EU students, a scholarship will be offered covering academic tuition fees of £4320/year for three years and any additional academic fees for a further 0.5 year. It will also cover a stipend of £15009/year for 3.5 years.

For overseas students, the scholarship covers academic tuition fees of £4320/year for three years and any additional academic fees for a further 0.5 year. It will also cover a stipend of £15009/year for 3.5 years. However, the candidates will need to pay the difference between the overseas tuition fees (£21,420/year) and those of home candidates (4320/year).


Barber, W.P. and Stuckey, D.C., 1999. The use of the anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) for wastewater treatment: a review. Water Research, 33(7), pp.1559-1578.
Fraga, B., Stoesser, T., Lai, C.C. and Socolofsky, S.A., 2016. A LES-based Eulerian–Lagrangian approach to predict the dynamics of bubble plumes. Ocean modelling, 97, pp.27-36.
Ouro, P., Fraga, B., Viti, N., Angeloudis, A., Stoesser, T. and Gualtieri, C., 2018. Instantaneous transport of a passive scalar in a turbulent separated flow. Environmental Fluid Mechanics, 18(2), pp.487-513.
UN Water (2018). Sustainable Development Goal 6: Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation. Published by the United Nations New York, New York 10017, United States of America
World Health Organization (WHO). Lack of sanitation for 2.4 billion people is undermining health improvements. New York (NY): WHO; 2015.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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