Contact Dr Ana Soares

Areas of expertise

  • Energy and the Environment
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics
  • Waste Management and Resource Efficiency
  • Water Science and Engineering


Dr Soares  holds a MEng in Biotechnology Engineering from Algarve University (Portugal) and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Lund University (Sweden) (2001-2005) with a project entitled “Biodegradation of the Recalcitrant Endocrine Disruptor Nonylphenol”. Her PhD formed part of national research program COLDREM (Soil Remediation in Cold Climate) and was supported by MISTRA (Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research) and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

Current activities

Dr Ana Soares is a Senior Lecturer in Biological Engineering at Cranfield Water Sciences Institute and she is an expert on the behaviour and manipulation of bacterial communities under dynamic conditions, leading to new technologies, optimisation of wastewater treatment and valuable product recovery. Dr Ana Soares applies her research to municipal as well as industrial wastewater treatment, delivering optimised, innovative and economically feasible solutions to produce high quality effluents. Dr Soares has a track record of winning and delivering research for: research council projects through a NERC CASE Studentship and the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation; organisations such as the Environment Agency (EA) and Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and European Union (EU) (COST ACTION WATER2020, Nov 2012) and Horizon 2020. Over her 12 years at Cranfield she had the opportunity to deliver projects to industrial clients such as water utilities (Yorkshire Water, Thames Water, Severn Trent, Scottish Water, etc.), petrochemical and chemical industries (Shell, Conoco Philips, Huntsman Chemicals, Nufarm, Tata Steel, etc.) as well as technical suppliers (Warden Biomedia, Hambaker Adams, etc.). A short summary of Dr Soares key research areas, application and science rational are:

1) Development of new technologies - Dr Soares research explores the underpinning science required to develop and manage bioreactors employing new biological organisms, cultures or pathways in order to optimise wastewater treatment and deliver the circular economy. The current focus relates to the utilisation of bacteria that directly precipitate phosphorus as part of their biochemical pathways and hence offer an exciting opportunity for enhanced phosphorus removal and recovery as a product (e.g. bio-struvite and calcium phosphate).  Dr Soares is also exploring ion exchangers for removing and recovering nutrients in the EU H2020 SMART-PLANT project (

2) Increase energy efficiency in wastewater treatment plants - Dr Soares has been investigating full-flow anaerobic wastewater treatment for the last 12 years, with the aim to replace energy intensive processes such as activated sludge by energy producing processes (her roles included include flowsheet development, design and operation of pilot plants, development of business cases, etc. with partners such as Yorkshire Water, Thames Water, Severn Trent, Scottish Water and Anglian Water) and application in H2020 nextGen ( Furthermore Dr Soares is a work package leader on the H2020 ENERWATER ( that aims to develop, validate and disseminate an innovative standard methodology for continuously assessing, labelling and improving the overall energy performance of wastewater treatment plants.

3) Adaptation of existing processes to enhance biological activity – Dr Soares investigates the improvement of wastewater treatment processes can also be completed by gaining a deeper understanding of existing processes to ensure process optimisation. Her projects have looked into aeration efficiency, bioaugmentation of nitrification processes in biofilm and suspended processes (projects with Tata Steel and Warden Biomedia). Dr Soares often works with the petrochemical and chemical industries to evaluate the biodegradability and toxicity of industrial wastewaters, proposing new processes trains and processes for efficient and low energy consumption treatment. This includes enrichment of microbial communities with capability to biodegrade hazardous pollutants by modifying the normal design and operation as well as the development of hybrid processes (combining, chemical biological and physical processes) to deliver economically feasible solutions.

4) Sensor development - Dr Soares has been working on the development of sensors as a means to optimise the biological processes in wastewater treatment. Dr Soares has developed and tested on the field a new sensor to enhance the feeding rate of anaerobic digesters of sewage sludge. The improved instrumentation and control resulted 30-40% increase in methane production (project with Yorkshire Water).  Also Dr Soares has worked on a sensor that measures phosphate in wastewater streams in the laboratory and real-time in wastewater treatment plants.


  • Scottish Water
  • Thames Water
  • Yorkshire Water
  • Anglian Water
  • Severn Trent
  • Environmental Agency
  • Warden Biomedia
  • Huntsman Chemicals
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Tata Steel
  • NERC
  • Technology Strategy Board


Articles In Journals