PhD position "Unravelling the pathways of nitrous oxide production in
a novel zero energy wastewater treatment system"


Position: The Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry at Southern Cross University, in collaboration with the University of QLD's Advanced Water Management Centre, is offering a PhD project in the field of environmental engineering/biogeochemistry. This project will examine the pathways and magnitude of nitrous oxide (N2O) production within a novel 'zero energy' wastewater treatment system.

Background: Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP's) have a significant carbon footprint owing to their high power consumption and production/release of greenhouse gases such as N2O. While anaerobic methane generation and combustion can partially offset the power demand of WWTP's, the process is currently inefficient with only 5-7% of the available energy being accessed. A new method in which free nitrous acid is used to breakdown waste organic material and increase biogas production has the potential to dramatically increase the energy generation potential of WWTP's. Indeed it has been estimated that this technology will lead to zero energy WWTP's. However, the impact of this new technology on N2O production is currently unknown. In this project, we aim to determine how the implementation of the free nitrous acid technology will influence the pathways and magnitude of N2O production in WWTP's.

Role: The successful applicant will be working as part of a broader team that includes researchers from the Advanced Water Management Centre at the University of QLD, as well as key industry partners including Queensland Urban Utilities. The project involves the use of cutting edge instrumentation (laser spectroscopy and isotope ratio mass spectrometry) together with stable isotope labelling to quantify the source and magnitude of N2O production in laboratory and pilot scale experimental systems.

Pre-requisites: Applicants will need to have a 1st Class Honours or Master degree in a related field such as environmental engineering, biogeochemistry, or environmental chemistry. Previous experience with wet chemistry, mass spectrometry, and/or stable isotope techniques will be viewed favourably, but are not essential.

Stipend and application procedure: The three year PhD scholarship will provide an annual stipend of $25,861. Interested applicants should send their CV, and a short letter highlighting their research background and interest in this area, to Dr Dirk Erler - dirk.erler@scu.edu.au. Short-listed applicants will be notified within 2 weeks of the closing date.

The application closing date is 5 pm Friday 30th June 2017.

posted: 31 May 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.