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I have two roles within the School of Engineering and Technology. I am employed part-time to conduct research in the Environmental Technology field and part-time as a Lecturer in Project Based Learning. Further details of my Environmental Technology research can be found under the 'Research Expertise' tab and the 'Supervision and Teaching' tab gives further detail on my teaching interests.
Current Project: How do we trigger algae to be greedy for phosphorus?
We have problems with too much phosphorus in our waterways but at the same time phosphorus is a nutrient that we are running out of. Currently large amounts of money are spent on removing phosphorus from wastewater without considering how we might be able to reuse this resource.
Imagine if algae could be 'triggered' on demand to suck up large quantities of phosphorus from domestic, agricultural and industrial effluents. Algae can at times store phosphorus but there's a catch - we don't know how to reliably trigger this phenomenon. This research will for the first time determine the environmental, process and biological conditions which 'trigger' phosphorus storage at an individual algal cell scale.
There is an opportunity here to lay the scientific foundation needed to develop of a novel, relatively simple and sustainable, new environmental biotechnology using algae to remove phosphorus from our effluent and recover it for reuse.
This project is funded by the Marsden Fund. To see more about this project take a look at this episode of Global Radar (at about 19 minutes along)
Previous Projects: Recovering energy from waste
There are many high energy wastes which could be used to produce energy via anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas high in methane which can then be used to produce heat and electricity using co-generation. This project involved surveying a range of wastes available and determining the right mix to use in the digesters. Anaerobic digesters use microorganisms to produce the biogas and they are quite sensitive to their environment so just the right mixture of ‘food’ is needed.
Another part of this project was to develop a new technology to allow anaerobic digestion of some of the more difficult waste products to digest. This involved laboratory studies and pilot scale work.
This project was funded by the Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund.
Final Year Student Research Projects
Take a look at these in the Yearbooks
Matthew Sells – Phosphorus removal from wastewater using algae
Aidan Crimp – Developing a phosphorus filter
Hannah Wells – Natural fibre filter for wastewater treatment
Jonathan Cottrell – Biogas production as a source of renewable energy
Joel Dykstra – Recovering energy from crops
Eric Gurden – Wastewater treatment by a natural fibre filter
Ryan Ennis – Improving energy recovery from organic wastes
Mohd Salihin Bin Mohd Saidi - Improving energy recovery from organic wastes
Resource Development and Management
Field of research codes
Chemical Engineering (090400): Engineering (090000): Environmental Engineering (090700): Wastewater Treatment Processes (090409)
Project Title: Establishing the engineering fundaments of a new algae based phosphorus removal process
Date Range: 2012 - 2016
Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full
In the last few years the Engineering degree has been redesigned and a key part of the new degree are project based papers. This is where students learn to apply their skills they have learnt and at the same time develop project management, team work and other skills which are needed by professional engineers.
One of my areas of interest is to try and determine what effect this new approach to teaching is having on our graduates.