PhD Studentship in Wastewater Treatment Technology

University of Southampton School of Engineering

PhD Studentship - A more sustainable wastewater treatment technology: aerobic granular sludge

Civil, Maritime & Environmental Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus

Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020

Reference:  1185919DA

Supervisor:                 Dr Yongqiang Liu

Co-supervisor             Prof Sonia Heaven

Project description

Municipal wastewater treatment is moving from energy-intensive conventional activated sludge to more advanced technology for sustainability. Aerobic granular sludge is a novel technology for wastewater treatment, which requires less footprint, less energy consumption and provide opportunities to facilitate resource recovery from wastewater. Duo to some distinct advantages over conventional activated sludge, aerobic granular sludge technology has been commercialized with more than 50 full-scale facilities constructed and planned in last few years. To further take advantages of granules properties, and bring granular sludge technology forward to practical application for sustainable wastewater treatment, the stability of granules structure and relationship between granular sludge and suspended sludge require a fundamental understanding because granular sludge also has risks to disintegrate or become fluffy, causing treatment failure. 

The aim of this project is to focus on improving granule stability and retention at different operational conditions with different operation modes. More specifically, this project is to investigate the competition and cooperation between suspended sludge and granular sludge as well as the dependence of granule structure on operation conditions to make a link between operational conditions and granule stability (e.g. structure stability and performance stability). The wastewater treatment experiment will be carried out in lab-scale bioreactors which we have been using to form granules to treat wastewater. 

You will work within the Water and Environmental Engineering Group at University of Southampton which is equipped with cutting edge research equipment for wastewater and waste related projects.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Yongqiang Liu, Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2843.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Engineering and the Environment (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Dr Yongqiang Liu under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include: 

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online: 


For further information please contact: