This MSc by research offers an exciting opportunity to resolve the key questions around nutrient recovery form wastewater using ion exchange processes at demonstration scale and help establish a robust case for its implementation. The successful candidate will be working in a full-scale wastewater treatment plant with state-of-the-art research facilities around Redditch, working closely with the industrial sponsor, Severn Trent Water. The work will include operation and data analysis of a demonstration scale ion exchange plant supplemented with laboratory investigation to resolve key scientific questions. An MSc by research at Cranfield University is an intensive research degree that allows successful candidates to demonstrate their ability to conduct research, whilst benefiting from the support of industrial and academic supervisors. Read more Read less

Traditional biological and chemical technologies used for nutrient removal from wastewater have high energy demand, chemical consumption and present limited options for resource recovery. On the other hand, the use of ion exchangers (IEXs) for nutrient removal as tertiary treatment processes allows for full control of the effluent quality and for the recovery of the nutrients as valuable products from the concentrated regenerant solutions. To date, synthetic zeolite and hybrid anion exchangers (HAIX) present the best available materials to selectively remove respectively ammonia and phosphorus from wastewater, whilst observing the limits imposed by the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

The project here purposed focuses on the nutrient removal and recovery from municipal wastewater at demonstration scale. Furthermore, the recovery of phosphorus and ammonia as marketable products will be investigated as well as solutions to establish the regeneration capacity of the brine solutions and ensuring the economic feasibility of the process.

Cranfield University is the UK’s only exclusively postgraduate university. Cranfield’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships is creating leaders in technology and management globally. In the field of Water Science and Engineering, Cranfield Water Sciences Institute (CWSI) is recognised internationally for its research, education, training and consultancy. CWSI offers leading expertise and training on water and sanitation, water policy and governance, modelling, water and wastewater technology and risk management for the water sector. CWSI has strong links will all the water utilities in the UK, which is further evidenced by our long-term strategic partnerships. These partnerships allow the exchange of resources; the development of long- term R&D projects and most of all enable CWSI to have deep understanding of the current pressures faced by the water industry, as well as future developments. The project sponsor is Severn Trent Water. This is one of the largest of the 10 regulated water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, supplying water to circa 8 million people, and collecting and treating wastewater from circa 9 million people in the Midlands and mid-Wales regions of the UK.

An MSc by research at Cranfield University is an intensive research degree that allows successful candidates to demonstrate their ability to conduct research, whilst benefiting from the support of academic supervisors - this is a 12 month research programme. Cranfield University is well known for its excellence delivering research for the water industry. Our students are a key part of this relationship, often finding careers within the industry after completing their studies at Cranfield. As such this MSc by research provides an excellent opportunity for the successful candidate to gain experience on cutting edge applied research and its dissemination into the water industry providing ideal skills development for future careers within both academia and industry.

At a glance

  • Application deadline21 Jun 2021
  • Award type(s)MSc by Research
  • Start date28 Jun 2021
  • Duration of award1 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSWEE0146

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first- or second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline such as chemistry, engineering, or environmental science. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of wastewater analysis, working with pilot-plants whilst following of working under strict health and safety regulations. The candidate should be self-motivated, have excellent oral and written communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in applied scientific research.

A UK valid driving licence is essential.


Sponsored by Severn Trent, Water this studentship will provide a bursary up to £18,000/year (tax free) plus home student university fees (£9,000) for the duration of the award, which is 1 year.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information, please contact: 

Name: Professor Ana Soares

If you are eligible to apply for the MSc by Research, please complete the online MSc by Research application form stating the reference No. SWEE0146.

For general enquiries about this position, including help applying, terms and conditions, etc, please contact:, quoting SWEE0146.