Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems. The department of Process Engineering (Eng) invites applications for a PhD Position on densified activated sludge (DAS) applied to the treatment of municipal wastewater

Information about the project: The offered PhD position is part of a joint research project between Eawag (Dr habil. Derlon / Prof. Dr Morgenroth) and Suez (Dr Saur). The project focuses on the development of densified activated sludge technology, as an alternative to conventional activated sludge systems.

Description of the proposed PhD: Densified activated sludge (DAS) is a recently developed technology applied to the treatment of municipal wastewaters. DAS consists of a mixture of flocs and small/dense granules (few hundreds of microns diameter). DAS has the potential to combine advantages from both activated sludge (AS) (absence of mass-transfer limitations) and aerobic granular sludge (AGS) (improved settle ability and therefore higher biomass concentrations, high total nitrogen removal and reduced green-house gas emissions).

DAS thus represents a promising advancement to both these systems. Densification of biological aggregates is conventionally achieved through application of a combined microbial selection (of storing microorganisms) and physical-selection (of fast-settling aggregates). The main objective of the proposed PhD will be to understand to what extent densification can be achieved in sequencing-batch reactors through physical selection only.

The specific tasks of the PhD will be: (i) to gain a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms responsible for densification in absence of microbial selection (chemical precipitation, removal of fine solids, etc.) and (ii) to evaluate to what extent the treatment performances and emissions of DAS systems are improved, as opposed to those of conventional AS or AGS systems.

Those tasks will be addressed through a combined experimental and modelling approach. Experiments will be conducted at both laboratory- and pilot-scales. A mathematical model of DAS in sequencing batch reactor will be used in parallel.

We are looking for an independent and motivated student with a broad background and interest in wastewater treatment, microbiology, and engineering applications. The candidate should hold an MS degree in Environmental Engineering, Microbiology, Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering, or similar.

The position is available in the Process Engineering department of Eawag and will start on 4 September 2023. The duration of the PhD program at ETH-Zürich is generally four years.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications should include a cover letter describing the applicant’s motivation for pursuing a PhD, a complete CV, list of lectures/corresponding grades and contact information for three references. Copies of prior publications or master thesis will also be considered if made available as PDF.

Eawag is  a modern employer and offers an excellent working environment where staff can contribute their strengths, experience and ways of thinking. We promote gender equality and are committed to staff diversity and inclusion. For specific information on the project, please contact Dr Nicolas Derlon nicolas.derlon@eawag.ch .

We look forward to receiving your application. Please send it through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. A click on the button below will take you directly to the application form.

Apply now

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