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Sustainable Water Desalination by Capacitive Deionization

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Junjie Shen
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project: The access to safe drinking water is a pre-requisite to human health and sustainable social and economic development. According to the World Health Organization, 800 million people across the world lack safe drinking water and 600 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. Desalination is one of the most promising solutions to the water crisis in developing countries.

Capacitive deionization (CDI) is an emerging desalination technology, which uses porous electrodes to adsorb ions from water by applying a low voltage between two electrodes. It has several unique advantages compared to established desalination technologies: low energy consumption, no use of chemicals, high removal efficiency, and large water recovery. However, selective separation of certain ions (such as fluoride and arsenic) from mixtures remains a major challenge for CDI. Another challenge for water treatment practices in developing countries is the limited access to water infrastructure and power supply.

This PhD project will focus on the development of an innovative CDI system to ensure selective ion removal and self-sustained operation with minimal maintenance requirement. It is thus a sustainable approach to supplying safe drinking water to communities in developing countries, from water sources with specific ionic contaminations, such as fluoride and arsenic. The following objectives have been designed:

1. Develop novel carbon electrode materials with enhanced ion selectivity and sorption capacity;
2. Design, implement, and field test a portable CDI prototype powered by solar energy;
3. Exploit the fundamental understandings of salt transport, system optimization, and operation strategies.

The successful PhD candidate will join the University of Bath’s Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering (CASE), which is the largest separations research centre in the UK focused on developing and deploying advanced separations technologies across a wide range of sectors ( The PhD candidate will also join the Water Innovation and Research Centre ([email protected]) which provides a unique environment to engage globally in research and policy on water technologies and resource management ( In addition, the project will involve close collaboration (e.g., experiments, conferences, workshops) with collaborators in China and Tanzania - so if you like to travel this is a bonus!

Applicants should have an undergraduate Masters first class degree in a relevant discipline (chemical engineering, environmental engineering, chemistry, material science), with a particular interest in transport phenomena, system design and process control. You will demonstrate strong self-motivation, ability to think analytically and creatively, good team spirit and excellent communication and writing skills. Experience with water treatment processes is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. Any English language requirements must be met at the deadline for applications.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Junjie Shen ([Email Address Removed])

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for inclusion in funding rounds scheduled for end of November 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019 and April 2019. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for 3.5 years. Early application is strongly recommended.

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

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

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