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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/S59543/01
Title: PLATFORM: General & unifying concepts for wastewater treatment plant design
Principal Investigator: Curtis, Professor TP
Other Investigators:
Head, Professor I Younger, Professor PL Elliott, Mr D
Kutija, Dr V
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Platform Grants (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 February 2004 Ends: 31 January 2008 Value (£): 412,046
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Water Construction
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Despite the fundamental economic and ecological importance of wastewater treatment, this branch of engineering has a very weak theoretical basis and a relatively fractured technical community. As a consequence design is typically empirical and improvement is heuristic and large scale innovation is risky. We assert that all wastewater treatment systems from wetlands to activated sludge adhere to the same set of ecological rules and that we can exploit those rules to develop generic approaches to design. This aspiration has only become possible because of advances in molecular microbial ecology which means that engineers can, for the first time, measure the communities and populations that they manipulate. Through a synthesis of these and other advances in theoretical ecology, microscopy and computational methods we hope to be able to generate universal design principles centred around three themes: How treatment communities form and may be manipulated, the relationship between loading rates and non-linear growth dynamics and the engineering of specific responses by manipulation of resources. We accept that much of this is new to the UK engineering community and will disseminate our skills and findings through workshops attended by our national and international collaborators. We believe that this approach can precipitate a step change in the design and operation of wastewater treatment plants and herald a new more robust generation of wastewater technologies that operate to widely understood rules and within explicit ecological limits.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk