Postgraduate research opportunities New methods for removal of pollutants from water


Key facts

  • Opens: Wednesday 21 February 2024
  • Number of places: One
  • Duration: 3 years


Focussed on the development of novel sorption systems for water remediation, the project combines materials development, characterisation and testing for a range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and heavy metal species.
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Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Emerging pollutants have been linked to adverse effects in humans and wildlife, such species e.g. metaldehyde as a persistent pesticide, as well as pentabromobiphenylether, 4-nonylphenol, C10-C13 chloroalkanes and di(2 ethylhexyl)phthalate, which are listed as priority hazardous substances by the EU (refs: EC Water Directive 2000/60/EC and the final EU decision No. 2455/2001/EC). Environmental levels continue to increase but previous research on these emergent pollutants is limited; however, as they are beginning to increase in prevalence, and their biological impacts are realised, new methods are required to effect their removal. Building upon current research within the Fletcher group this project proposes the development of novel sorbent materials for the removal of persistent organic species, identified as emergent pollutants, from water process streams, including groundwater supplies. The group has recently developed a solid bed system for the removal of metaldehyde from water using cost-effective solid sorbents [1] and methods to address rising levels of endocrine disruptors in water streams [2-3]; this project will build on this solid base to address the issue of key emerging

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates may be considered for a University scholarship.

All Strathclyde Postgraduate Research (PGR) students undertake the Strathclyde Researcher Development programme (PGCert), which provides a framework for skills and knowledge development, with the award of the separate qualification in conjunction with the PhD. Additionally, all PGR students are automatically enrolled in the Strathclyde Doctoral School, providing opportunities for students to network and intensifying their research dissemination.


[1] Tao B, Fletcher A. Development of a novel dual-stage method for metaldehyde removal from water. Chemical Engineering Journal. 2016; 284:741-9.

[2] Tasca, A.L., Ghajeri, F., Fletcher, A.J. Novel hydrophilic and hydrophobic amorphous silica: characterization and adsorption of aqueous phase organic compounds. Adsorption Science & Technology. 2017; 1-21.

[3] Tasca, A.L., Fletcher, A. State of the art of the environmental behaviour and removal techniques of the endocrine disruptor 3,4-dichloroaniline, Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A. 2017.

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Funding details

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates will be eligible to be considered for a University scholarship.

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Professor Fletcher

Professor Ashleigh Fletcher

Chemical and Process Engineering

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During the application, you'll be asked for the following information and evidence uploaded to the application:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if you are not from a majority English-speaking country as recognised by UKVI
  • two references, one of which must be academic. Please see our guidance on referees
  • funding or scholarship information
  • international students must declare any previous UK study

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.

Useful resources

Number of places: One

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Chemical and Process Engineering

Programme: Chemical and Process Engineering

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

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