May 25, 2017

Taking the P in the future: new technologies for phosphorus capture from wastewater

Taking the P in the future: new technologies for phosphorus capture from wastewater

Phosphorus is an element at the heart of globally-significant challenges, in particular the need to identify sustainable approaches that are able to reduce nutrient enrichment within aquatic ecosystems. In this project, you will develop new technologies in order to reduce the financial and environmental costs associated with removing phosphorus from wastewater. Working with a range of materials that are by-products from other industrial sectors and with existing commercial products, you will undertake laboratory work to evaluate the mechanisms through which phosphorus is removed by individual products and how these products perform under a range of operating conditions, such as water temperature and pH. Subsequently, you will up-scale the best performing products and install them within a full-scale wastewater treatment works. You will then undertake a series of field trials to evaluate and to optimise phosphorus removal by the products under real-life hydraulic and pollutant loading scenarios.

This project offers you the opportunity to undertake a PhD at the Lancaster Environment Centre, a department that has recently been ranked in the top five of those within the UK for research and teaching in the environmental sciences. As well as novel research in the field of pollutant removal from wastewater, this project also involves close collaboration with Untied Utilities, a major water company in the UK. You will work collaboratively with staff from United Utilities throughout the project, including spending time at United Utilities offices and sites, in order to understand the financial and environmental considerations that surround the development and application of new water treatment technologies. Ultimately, this project seeks to establish the research base to underpin new technologies for wastewater treatment, alongside the design and operating principles needed to ensure broad application of these technologies across the UK and international water sectors.

Applicants should hold a Masters degree and/or a Bachelors degree (at 2.i level or equivalent) in subjects such as Environmental Science, Natural Science, Chemistry or Physical Geography. Applicants would also ideally have strong analytical skills and an interest in both field and laboratory based research.

If you’re interested in this project, you’re strongly encouraged to contact Dr Ben Surridge (; 01524 594516) to discuss the research and the training opportunities.