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Funded PhD Opportunity

Photoelectrocatalytic reactor with microcontroller-based control system for the elimination of antimicrobial resistant organisms in water

Subject: Engineering


Summary

Globally, about 1.8 Billion people live without access to improved water sources. Alarmingly, Contaminants of Emerging Concerns (CECs) such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, metal based nanoparticles, and other pollutants, including pathogens, antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARBs) were reported to be present in the treated sewage as well as in drinking water around the world. Photoelectrolytic (or electrochemically assisted photocatalytic) treatment of water is an interesting approach for the tertiary treatment of wastewater. This novel technology has been poorly investigated thus far for the simultaneous degradation or organic pollutants and removal of microorganisms present in wastewater. The objective of this PhD project relates to the development of an application of a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) for the removal of Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (ARB) in water.

This PhD project will focus on the following main objectives:

-Detection of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in water using microbial and molecular techniques.

-Selection and characterisation of an UV sensor material for automatic control of a photoreactor.

-Design of a microcontroller-based control program for the operation of a photoelectrochemical reactor based on UV dose sensing.

-Construction and assessment of an photoelectrocatalytic reactor with UV-feedback microcontroller-based control system for the elimination of antimicrobial organisms in water.

The data and results of this project will be published in high impact peer reviewed journals. The main novelty of this proposal is the contribution to the knowledge to the identification and removal of antimicrobial resistance in water. The expected impact is to reduce water stress in areas of water scarcity. This project aligns with the recently awarded H2020-PANIWATER (PI Dr Fernandez), which primarily addresses UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 ‘Ensure access to water and sanitation for all’. PANIWATER is a multidisciplinary research project where several European and Indian partners collaborate to investigate on novel and sustainable technologies for purifying wastewater and reduce water stress and water scarcity in India.  This will allow for the PhD student to learn for the expertise of other groups and to be integrated into a large multidisciplinary team.

The proposal addresses the Ulster 5 & 50 strategic themes of Healthy Communities, Sustainability and Social Renewal. There is significant opportunity for impact through the PANIWATER network leading to real outcomes for Europe and India.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed

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 support 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 support 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 support 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 support 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
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Pilar Fernandez-Ibanez


Other supervisors

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