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Water metabolism in cities: towards a deeper understanding of the lifecycle of drinking water in the urbanocene

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

About the Project

The urbanization trend is an undeniable fact worldwide in large and small cities. The urban conglomeration is continuously evolving as an organic entity that metabolizes energy, food and water into economic growth and waste. The urban sprawling demands the allocation of vast amount of natural resources in cities to sustain the livelihoods of its dwellers.

The urban development planning must move from linear to circular metabolism, including circular flows of water. This research will assess the affordability of cities to meet the current and forthcoming, environmental, technical and economic hurdles of 21st century towards efficient water management. It will assess the sources of drinking water, its distribution, the consumption patterns, the wastewater generated and its reclamation. This research will also touch upon the scale factor, namely how the size of the city affects the drinking water metabolism. Cities continuously draw surface and groundwater sources to ensure sufficient and good quality of drinking water for the inhabitants independently of their size. However, scale affects all aspects of urban life, from the length of pipelines to intellectual production. Moreover, the study will assess five different types of urban models to better capture the water metabolism at large. Namely the following urban models will be assessed a) new cities with rapid urbanization b) old cities with existent aged network c) water scarce cities with difficulty to access water sources d) hazard prone cities with high vulnerability on water-risk problems e) water sufficient cities, which however take measures on securitization of water resources.

This study will be conducted in cooperation with the International Water Association.

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 may be considered for a University scholarship.
Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) an undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, environmental economics, environmental studies or other discipline pertinent to the objectives of the study and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research. Knowledge of statistics, big data and network theory is an desirable.

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