This project will be a collaboration with SA Water and will focus on the efficiency of High Rate Algal Ponds as a low cost, low carbon solution for wastewater treatment in rural communities.
ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation – Delivering innovative biofilm solutions
We are the leading Australian research and training centre tackling biofilm-related challenges.
The ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation, led by Flinders University is a 5 year, $7.8m research and training program, bringing together 5 universities, 10 industry partners and key industry and regulatory bodies to deliver innovative research and biofilm solutions to tackle one of the biggest issues for the maritime and water industries. The Centre is offering scholarship opportunities across 3 Australian universities (Flinders University, Swinburne University and the University of Tasmania) over the 5 year period.
Biofilms grow on all surfaces and environments, from catheters to drinking water pipes and ships. They are complex organisations of cells that grow on both living and inert surfaces and are both viscous and elastic in nature. They can be made up of a single species or comprise several species of different types of microorganisms, including those that pose a threat to either human health or our environment. Biofilm attachment and development cannot be prevented completely thus they cost billions each year to those attempting to eradicate them.
By working with industries to develop innovative solutions that meet their needs and alleviate their biofilm-related problems, the ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation aims to: transform biofouling management strategies for maritime platforms; train the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers; and to develop biofilm management strategies across the defence and water industries to address evolving regulatory stringency.
The ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation PhD scholarship program will support the development of a new generation of specialists and leaders in biofilm monitoring and control. Our students will have access to world-class training, professional development and mentoring and will have a unique opportunity to undertake collaborative research projects and training with our industry partners.
Working within a large research entity (including PhDs, post-doctoral researchers, university chief investigators and industry partner investigators), scholarship recipients will work closely with an industry partner organisation to undertake industry research. Scholarship recipients will have access to mentoring, training, professional and personal development through our unique Foundation Training Program and will undertake a 12-month industry placement.
There is need to upgrade the performance of regional wastewater treatment plants to meet tightening environmental limits on total nitrogen, phosphorous and suspended solids (SS). Meeting these objectives usually involves replacing waste stabilisation lagoons with high cost, high energy, activated sludge plants. A need exists for water utilities explore low tech, sustainable solutions. Recently there has been success with the adoption of algal based systems (e.g. High Rate Algal Ponds) as a low cost, low carbon solution for wastewater treatment. Whilst their performance is excellent in removing ammonium, organic matter, and pathogens this study will look at modifying these systems to encourage development of novel algal-bacterial biofilms to achieve low-cost treatment that is capable of meeting both water quality (total N, SS, P removal) and sustainability criteria
1. Literature review to inform pilot design and operational parameters, and analytical methods needed to assess performance
2. Operate laboratory scale reactor to investigate the development/start-up of algal-bacterial biofilms system (proof of concept)
3. Process optimisation; (a) under controlled, laboratory conditions, identify key operating parameters (loading rates, cycle times, feed duration, etc) critical to maintaining algal-bacterial biofilms; (b) assess suitability of system to treat real sewage (via onsite lab trial or field trials at a WWTP)
4. Assess performance by measuring water quality parameters (nitrogen, phosphorus, BOD, SS etc) and GHG emissions (e.g. N2O)
5. Application of molecular tools (e.g. FISH and NGS) to characterise biofilm ecology, including statistical analysis to identify links with operational or performance parameters
The candidate will complete PhD candidature including a minimum 12 month placement and industry training at South Australian Water Corporation during which time you will be embedded with the industry partner team. The industry placement will enable you to develop your network, gain insight into the everyday research practices of an industry-leading/service driven organisation and conduct the additional laboratory or on-site field trials required as part of this project.