This fully funded PhD, offers an exciting opportunity to develop and implement the technological means for sustainable treatment of a distillery wastewater with a specific focus on resource recovery and water recycling. The study, which is part of an EC funded H2020 project, will aim to develop an integrated system combining the existing anaerobic membrane bioreactor at the distillery with reverse osmosis membranes for water recycling as well as heat exchangers and an adsorption or stripping process for heat and ammonia recovery, respectively. The project will progress from preliminary work at lab and pilot scale in the state of the art laboratories and testing facilities at Cranfield University to field testing of the demonstrator at the distillery in Scotland.

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With climate change and ever-increasing pressures on resources, industries and the water sector have acknowledged the need to move towards more sustainable approaches and more specifically deliver a paradigm shift in how wastewater is viewed and processed. In recent years, significant research efforts have been dedicated to develop and optimise technologies for the recovery of resources (i.e. water, energy, nutrients) from municipal wastewater. Interestingly, industrial wastewaters, which generally contain much greater levels of organics and other contaminants, provide a substantial opportunity for resource recovery.

The aim of this project is to develop an integrated system for treatment and resource recovery from a distillery wastewater. As part of this, the successful candidate will investigate the integration of an anaerobic membrane bioreactor and reverse osmosis membranes for the production of high quality water to be reused within the distillery, identify and demonstrate the most efficient and sustainable process for ammonia removal and recovery from the effluent and devise a heat recovery strategy to reduce the site’s energy consumption.

This PhD project will allow the successful candidate to demonstrate their ability to conduct cutting edge applied research, whilst benefiting from the support of academic supervisors and industrial input from a collaborating technology provider. Cranfield University is well known for its excellence in delivering research for the water industry and our students are a key part of this relationship, often finding careers within the industry after completing their studies at Cranfield.

The Water Science Institute has an international reputation for its transformational research and teaching in the science, engineering and management of water in the municipal, industrial and natural environments.

The project will not only deliver innovative technologies to support the distillery in implementing a sustainable waste management strategy with potential savings in water and energy usage but also it will more broadly help promote a circular economy approach to the sector and other industries.

This project will provide the successful candidate with exposure to both academic research in Cranfield and industrial application at the demonstration site in Scotland as well as working in a large multi-national and multi-disciplinary project as part of the H2020 project. There will be opportunities to travel to bi-annual project meetings throughout Europe and to conferences to present the findings from the work.

At the end of the project the successful candidate will be very well positioned to have a very successful career in the water sector or academia. We will help you develop into a dynamic, confident and highly competent researcher with wider transferable skills (communication, project management and leadership) and an international network of colleagues that will be highly desirable for future employability.

At a glance

  • Application deadline14 Jun 2020
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date28 Sep 2020
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU
  • Reference numberSWEE0104

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as engineering, chemistry, environmental sciences, or water science. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of wastewater treatment technologies. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research.


Sponsored through the EC funded H2020 project ULTIMATE, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000 per annum (tax free) plus fees* for three years.

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK or EU national. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions.

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: Dr Marc Pidou

T: (0) 1234 750111 ext:8328

If you are eligible to apply for the PhD, please complete the online PhD application form stating the reference No. SWEE0104