Chemical Engineering: Fully Funded Welsh Water Dwr Cymru PHD Scholarship: Valorisation of Drinking Water Treatment Works Sludge
The devotion of the UK water industry to achieve zero-carbon emissions and circular economy will require new approaches in operating the treatment processes and managing resources and residues. Thus, a shift from a commonly adopted linear model based on Take-Use-Discharge strategy to a circular approach is timely, required, and offers opportunity for commercial advantage. Resources reuse and valorisation of water treatment residues are key for the transition to a low carbon economy and a circular water industry.
Large volumes of sludge are generated as part of the purification process of potable water. In the UK alone, more than 130,000 tonnes (dry basis) of water treatment works sludge are produced yearly. This sludge is becoming increasingly difficult to manage not only because of the high volumes produced but also due to the limited disposal options available. Currently, about 80% of sludge generated from potable water treatment plants in the UK is recycled to land. However, such sludge contains huge amounts of valuable materials that could be recovered and reused either within the water and wastewater treatment processes or externally by other industries. Land banks used for sludge disposal are also diminishing, which will put pressure on the land disposal route. Thus, there is a need to find new cost-effective and sustainable ways of managing water sludges by releasing the value of sludges while reducing wastes and producing useful products from the sludge.
This PhD programme is funded by Dŵr Cymru (Welsh Water) to explore new separation and reactive techniques based on new filters combined with hydrothermal and oxidation processes to release the value of materials in water sludges. The recovered materials could be ferric, aluminium, humic materials, phosphorous and trace metals. By using these products as raw materials rather than using the disposal route will align with Dwr Cymru’s Strategic Response 18: Promoting a Circular Economy and Combatting Climate Change as part of the company’s Water 2050 Vision. This project will have access to state-of-the-art facilities in the Water and Resources Recovery Research Lab and across the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Particularly, this project will have access to facilities supported by the recent Circular Economy Capital Fund received from the Welsh Government.