Engineered nanomaterials for safe sustainable water purification


Access to clean drinking water and sanitation has seen substantial progress in recent time, however there is still a large part of the global population, that live mostly in rural settings, that lack this basic necessity. The UN estimates that globally one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and two in five people lack basic hand-washing facilities. Given this escalating challenge of clean water scarcity, the UN General Assembly has initiated the Water action decade in 2019 to mobilise action and transform management of water.  Many techniques are currently applied to purification of water supplies.  These include methods such as activated carbon, oxidation and sludge.  Purification methods that can successfully deal with microbial contamination do not effectively combat environmental pollutants.  Therefore, there is a need for sustainable, cost effective, efficient and sustainable methodologies that can tackle microbial and environmental pollutants.

Nanomaterials have many unique characteristics such that are derived from their size, surface free energy, high surface area and reactivity which make them ideal for water purification applications.  Membrane-based separation technologies have played a dominant role in water purification due to their effectiveness and energy efficiency.  However transforming conventional membranes have intrinsic limitations to prevent increasing their efficacy.  Nanofibrous membranes are promising alternative in this regard as they are have a large surface to volume ratio that allow them to be significantly more effective for the adsorption of environmental contaminants. Combining antimicrobial nanomaterials into nanofibrous membranes can have the advantage of effectively removing microbial and bacterial contaminants from water supplies.  

The aim of this project is to develop nanomaterial doped electrospun nanofibrous membranes to remove microbial and environmental contaminants from water supplies. 

This is a highly interdisciplinary project that sits at the interface between materials sciences and microbiology. The student will have the opportunity to attend University-run courses in relevant subject areas, as well as to interact with students and postdoctoral researchers from a wide range of scientific backgrounds.  Extensive training will be provided throughout the project as part of internationally renowned research teams.  The studentship will provide the candidate with a wide range of skills in basic science and translation that will strategically position them for a career in several different sectors.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project



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