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Funded PhD Opportunity

Engineered solar systems for drinking water disinfection.

Subject: Engineering


Summary

At least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is faecally contaminated and thus likely to lead to diarrheal illness. Diseases related to the consumption of contaminated drinking-water (food and domestic uses) place a major burden on human health. In 2015, 663 million people still lacked access to an improved drinking water source, and these are mostly the poor and marginalized. Almost a quarter of those people rely on surface water that is untreated and microbiologically unsafe, leading to a higher risk of contracting waterborne diseases, including typhoid, hepatitis A and E, polio and cholera. There are several low-cost interventions that can disinfect water. Among them, solar water disinfection has been demonstrated to inactivate a number of pathogenic microorganisms. Nevertheless, a number of challenges have identified that limit the application and compliance of this technology in the field, as for example the up-scaling of solar reactors to treat water at community level, the water quality assurance for adhering to the WHO international scheme to evaluate Household Water Treatment Technologies, and the user dependency.

The objective of this PhD project relates to the development of an application of solar water disinfection systems for the disinfection of water at community level facing these issues. This PhD project will focus on the efficiency of solar radiation for several microbial indicators inactivation and will identify engineered-enhancement routes to improve the process efficiency for the provision of safe water in low-income communities.

The main objectives of this project are:

Design and construct efficient low cost systems for the enhanced disinfection of drinking water, with focus in the materials selection.

Determining the efficiency of the solar disinfection systems for a bacterial and a viral indicator.

Identifying the main physical and design factors affecting solar water disinfection of bacterial and viral indicators and potential enhancers.

Determining the efficiency of the process under real solar radiation in the communities of the SAFEWATER project.

This project should deliver an engineered system for solar enhanced disinfection for providing safe drinking water for areas of low income. The data and results of this project will be published in high impact peer reviewed journals. The main novelty of this proposal is the development of a low-cost system for delivering clean and safe drinking water for sunny areas of the world with focus in community scale and quality assurance. The main impact expected for this project will be to reduce the incidence of diseases transmitted as result of drinking untreated water. This will be evaluated in selected communities of Latin America, and the results will be used as an exemplar for the use of technology for sustainable development – consistent with UN priorities and the sustainable development goals.

This PhD proposal is complementary to the recently funded GCRF – RCUK ‘SAFEWATER’ project (£4.8 M from EPSRC).


Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 19 February 2018

Interview Date
Mid March 2018


Applying

Apply Online  


Contact supervisor

Dr Pilar Fernandez-Ibanez


Other supervisors

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