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Synergistic Effects of Sonolysis Combined with Forward Osmosis Driven by Renewable Energies for Water-Energy Nexus Solutions in the Caribbean.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr K Tota-Maharaj
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Increasing awareness of the depletion of current sources of energy has led to a global effort in the research and development of renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, tidal and geothermal energy. Renewable energy sources can provide a reliable energy supply alternative for water desalination. Initial cost and resource availability are the most significant limitations. One of the critical limiting factors to the wider implementation of renewable energy driven desalination systems is the intermittence and unpredictability of the renewable energy source. Desalination of brackish water or sea water now represents a consolidated system to resolve any water emergency that may arise. The main drawback of this solution, however, remains the high energy consumption, high cost and, above all, the negative environmental impacts caused by their use, it is imperative to search for new alternative sources to supplement or substitute conventional fuels. In view of the aforementioned problems, considering renewable energy resources such solar, geothermal and wind energies seems feasible, especially for remote areas with no electricity grid, which would be very expensive to connect. This motivation for using renewable energy is even greater if stand-alone desalination applications are considered, because the energy required for the process is particularly expensive in remote areas where safe potable water is limited.

Existing small-scale seawater desalination equipment, suitable for areas of medium and low population density, often requires a copious and constant supply of energy, either electricity or diesel. If supplies of these fuels are costly or insecure, but if the area has a good wind resource or solar influx then the use of this renewable energy source is an attractive option. In order to produce small-scale wind and solar energy-forward osmosis project economically viable, the pumps and forward osmosis membranes must offer excellent energy efficiencies which are maintained over a wide operating range.

Desalination of brackish water and seawater in decentralised small scale installations presents an interesting and cost effective solution in many Caribbean regions with water shortage. As a result of the high energy demand for desalination technologies and the coincidence of regional water demand, promising research activities are already being carried out concerning solar/wind/geothermal driven desalination plants.

The goal of this research project is to further develop a Renewable Energy powered Ultrasonic and Forward Osmosis system for autonomous treatment of drinking water that can overcome shortfalls of conventional water treatment systems in the Caribbean region, using feed-forward osmosis (FFO) technology in the desalination of brackish and high salinity waters. The objectives of this research project are to demonstrate water quality benefits, energy savings and introduce to the Caribbean water and wastewater markets the feasibility of Ultrasonic and Feed forward osmosis technology.

The specific aims are to:
1. Design, build, commission and test a novel pilot plant system and determine energy efficiency and removal of dissolved contaminants by this system.
2. Investigate the impact of fluctuating energy and on membrane fouling prevention.
3. Determine advantages for developing and establishing FFO technologies, in the areas of: (i) reduced maintenance by controlling fouling (blocking) of the membranes; (ii) increased efficiency (water output per unit energy consumed); and (iii) system robustness to energy fluctuations.

Areas to be considered in developing this PhD research project may include but not limited to: (a) Fossil-Fuel-Based Desalination and long-term sustainability for the Caribbean region (b) Desalination and reducing the economic gap for the cost of water supply considering population growth and GDP factors (c) Addressing the Caribbean region water crisis and climate change impacts on future water resources (f) Desalination and its energy implications (renewable energy solutions).

Entry Requirements: Applicants should have a minimum of a 2.1 degree in Engineering (Chemical, Civil, Environmental, Mechanical, Process, Utilities Engineering) or Natural Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science) and a Masters degree in a relevant subject area (Chemical and Process Engineering, Civil Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science and Management, Mechanical Engineering, Water and Wastewater Management, Renewable Energy Technology)

• Typical Duration of PhD (3 years)
• Students must have a Good (Hons) Undergrad (BSc, BASc, BEng) & Postgraduate qualification (MSc/MPhil)
• Must have Access to & Links with a Local University (University of the West Indies)
• Research students spend 80 % of the time annually in Caribbean country of origin where Project is applicable (Trinidad and Tobago). Remaining 20 % (Research, Progress Reports, Progress Presentations, Seminars, Library Access, Laboratory Access, Consultation in the UK)

Enquiries :
Email name and address: Dr Kiran Tota-Maharaj, Email: [email protected] (University of Greenwich) or
Dr Krishpersad Manohar, Email: [email protected] (University of the West Indies)

Application Web Page: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/study/apply/pg

Tel. No. for Enquiries:
Dr K.Tota-Maharaj, Telephone: +44(0) 1634 883 359 (University of Greenwich, UK) or
Dr K. Manohar, Telephone: + 1(868) 662 2002 extension: 3190 (University of the West Indies)

Funding Notes

Self-Funding PhD project. The tuition fee for International students who will be studying on a Full-Time basis outside of the United Kingdom (UK) based in Trinidad and Tobago will be half the corresponding fee for International students who study on a full time basis at one of the main university campuses. This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis and is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. International Tuition fees for 2016/2017 for postgraduate research students working on these projects in collaboration with the University of the West Indies are £6,075.00 per annum. Further Details of tuition fees can be found at: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/research/study/fees


1. E.S. Mohamed, et al. An experimental comparative study of the technical and economic performance of a small reverse osmosis desalination system equipped with a hydraulic energy recovery unit. Desalination, 194(1-3) (2006) 239-250.
2. B.G. Keeper et al. Optimized matching of solar photovoltaic power with reverse osmosis desalination. Desalination, 54 (1985) 89-103.
3. Al-Karaghouli, et al. Technical and economic assessment of photovoltaic-driven desalination systems. Renewable Energy, 35(2) (2010) 323-328.
4. M. Thomson et al. A small-scale seawater reverse-osmosis system with excellent energy efficiency over a wide operating range, Desalination, 153(1-3) (2003) 229-236.
5. Joyce, et al. Small reverse osmosis units using PV systems for water purification in rural places. Desalination, 137(1-3) (2001) 39-44.
6. Halkidiki, Greece, European Desalination Society and Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), Sani Resort, 2008. 220 (1-3), 431-MO.
7. D.B. Riffel, and P.C.M. Carvalho, Small-scale photovoltaic powered reverse osmosis plant without batteries: Design and simulation. Desalination, 247(1-3) (2009) 378-389.
8. S. Alawaji et al. Stafford, PV-powered water pumping and desalination plant for remote areas in Saudi Arabia, Applied Energy, 52(2–3) (1995) 283–289.
9. S. M. Marcos, and D. Infield, A wind powered seawater reverse osmosis system without batteries, Desalination, 153 (2002) 9-16.

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