Thames Water Sponsored DPhil Studentship 2012-2015

Reduction of algal loading onto water treatment works

A three-year funded DPhil studentship is available from October 2012, in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford.

We are seeking a highly-motivated researcher for this exciting opportunity to develop research expertise in the design and operation of novel, biological pre-filters for potable water treatment works. Such skills are in great demand within the water industry, in universities and in consultancy companies. The ideal candidate will hold an undergraduate degree in a biological science such as zoology or botany, or an applied engineering or environmental science. The candidate must possess good communication and inter-personal skills, be numerate, and should have experience of, or enthusiasm for, engaging with industry on problems of an intellectually demanding and highly practical nature.

Thames Water have identified peaks in chemical demand associated with algal blooms as a current cause of seasonal increases in the costs of potable water treatment; a goal has been set to minimise the impact of algal blooms and thus reduce treatment costs at Farmoor stage 2 reservoir in Oxfordshire. It is proposed to install a combined physical and biological barrier, consisting of a combination of submerged booms and floating reed beds, in order to reduce the algal biomass exiting into the treatment process. The project will investigate and evaluate how well the installation meets its goals over a three year period via an intensive field- and lab-based protocol; this would involve quantifying and monitoring the ecology of the reed-bed installation and associated booms and filters, measuring their effects on hydrochemical flow pathways, monitoring the impact of the installation on algal populations, and quantifying the impact on the downstream water-works operation and wash water treatment and disposal. The ultimate goal would be the development of a successful final design for installation on other suitable reservoirs.

The student would be integrated into the Thames Water organization at Farmoor, with smaller scale lab-based work being executed at Oxford University Begbroke Science Park and at the Thames Water Innovation Centre, Kempton Park. She/he would be supervised jointly by academic staff at Oxford University and by staff at Thames Water.

The studentship covers university fees at the UK/EU student level, College fees, and a tax-free stipend for three years: £14,400 in the first year, with annual increments. It is available to all applicants, but non-UK/EU students would need to provide the difference in university fees. The deadline for applications is July 24, 2012. Interviews will take place during the week commencing the 6th of August. Applicants should send a CV, a covering letter explaining what they can bring to this challenging project, and reference letters from two academic referees to: Dr Nick Hankins, Department of Engineering Science, The University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PJ (to whom informal enquiries may be addressed).

Applicants should hold a full, clean driving licence. The successful candidate would be expected to work over deep water, and gain the necessary boat handling qualifications.

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