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Optimisation of biological wastewater treatment and anaerobic digestion plants- LEVERHULME

School of Engineering

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Dr D Dionisi No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The aim of the project is to optimize the operating conditions of full scale biological wastewater treatment processes and anaerobic digestion processes in order to maximise COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) removal and energy recovery while minimizing energy consumption and plant footprint.
The project requires collecting and analyzing data from full scale plants, identifying the effect of the main process parameters, e.g. hydraulic and solids residence time (HRT, SRT). The following data should be collected and analyzed: Influent and effluent COD, COD removal, energy consumed for aeration, sludge production, influent and effluent VS (and VSS), methane generation rate, energy generated, temperature. The data will need to be collected and averaged over a certain period of time, e.g monthly, yearly. These data may be already available from the considered plants or they might have to be calculated the data available, or some sampling/measurements might be needed. We aim to find out which are the optimum operating conditions for the plants and how to manipulate the operating conditions to maximise COD removal, minimise energy consumption, maximise energy recovery. We also aim to implement the recommendations from this analysis in one or more plants, demonstrating that under the optimum process conditions the plants save money and operate more sustainably.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering or related discipline with knowledge of chemical engineering, environmental engineering, chemistry or related subjects and Microsoft Office package (especially Excel). Industrial experience in wastewater treatment is desirable.


Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Leverhulme’ as the Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Funding Notes

Tuition Fee waiver only, provided at UK/EU rates. Successful applicant will need to provide funds for living expenses.

International students are welcome to apply, providing they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International tuition fees.


Dionisi, D. Biological wastewater treatment processes. Mass and Heat balances. CRC press, 2017

Dionisi, D, Bolaji, I, Nabbanda, D & Silva, IMO 2018, 'Calculation of the potential production of methane and chemicals using anaerobic digestion', Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 788-801

Bolaji, I & Dionisi, D 2017, 'Acidogenic fermentation of vegetable and salad waste for chemicals production: Effect of pH buffer and retention time', Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 5933-5943.

Dionisi, D & Silva, IMO 2016, 'Production of ethanol, organic acids and hydrogen: an opportunity for mixed culture biotechnology?', Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 213-242.
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