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PhD Studentship: Fouling Control and Cleaning of Membrane for Water Treatment

University of Southampton

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding amount: Funding for tuition fees and a living stipend are available on a competitive basis. Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis, so apply early for the best opportunity to be considered.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th November 2023
Closes: 31st August 2024
 

Project title: Fouling control and cleaning of membrane for water treatment

Supervisory Team:  Yongqiang Liu

Project description

Globally, water scarcity is a pressing issue, affecting between two and three billion people worldwide, as reported by the recent UN World Water Development report. Osmotically driven forward osmosis (FO) technology offers promise in addressing this problem by recovering water from municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents and complementing other methods for seawater desalination. FO also shows potential in concentrating municipal wastewater to recover water, nutrients, and energy. However, despite its advantages, membrane fouling remains a significant concern, leading to reduced flux, higher cleaning costs, extended downtime, and shorter membrane lifespans.

Membrane fouling is a complex issue encompassing inorganic scaling, biofouling, and the deposition of organic macromolecules and colloids. In practice, these different fouling interact, causing persistent and irreversible fouling over time. Biofouling, in particular, is a critical concern, contributing to at least 45% of membrane fouling and being more significant in wastewater treatment due to abundant nutrients present there. Inorganic scaling also plays a significant role, especially when concentrating municipal wastewater with increased cation, carbonate, and phosphate concentrations.

Currently, osmotic backwashing and chemical cleaning are common fouled membrane cleaning methods, but they are environmentally unfriendly due to their high energy and chemical consumption. In recent years, ultrasound-assisted fouling control and cleaning have gained attention for their chemical-free and non-intrusive nature. In-situ ultrasound application also has the potential to prevent or minimize membrane surface fouling.

In this project, you will investigate the fundamental mechanisms of fouling in FO, focusing on hydrodynamics in the FO cell and the compositions of feed and draw solutions. Building on this knowledge, you will study the effectiveness of ultrasound treatment in controlling and cleaning FO membrane for water/wastewater treatment and optimise treatment conditions.

Candidates with degrees in environmental engineering, bioengineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, or related fields are preferred. However, applicants with other relevant engineering or science backgrounds and a strong interest in water/wastewater treatment and resource recovery are also encouraged to apply. You will be part of the Water and Environmental Engineering Group in the School of Engineering, and collaborate with an industrial partner who supports this research.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr. Yongqiang Liu, Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group, Email: Y.Liu@soton.ac.uk  Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2843.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 August 2024. Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

Funding: Funding for tuition fees and a living stipend are available on a competitive basis. Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis, so apply early for the best opportunity to be considered.

How To Apply

Apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study (soton.ac.uk). Select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Yongqiang Liu

Applications should include:

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

For further information please contact: feps-pgr-apply@soton.ac.uk

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