PhD: Using Biologically Treated Wastewater As A Sustainable And Environmental Preservation Alternative to The Concrete Industry In The United Arab Emirates (On Campus – Dubai)

Heriot Watt University

Dubai - United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪

Reference no.: JWS2023-RR

Closing date: 17 April 2023

The construction sector is blamed for being the largest natural resources consumer. It is considered one of the largest fresh water-consuming during its different process stages. Practically, one m3 of concrete requires about 150 litres of fresh water, increasing to 500 litres if counting the washing materials, curing, transportation losses and equipment preparation. So far, tap water is mainly used in this process, whether in the preparation of components, mixing or even after hardening during the curing treatment process.

However, this may become a burden in the future due to the continuing increasing scarcity of fresh water, which is only less than 3% of the total water on earth, where regions such as the United Arab Emirates suffer due to population growth and climatic changes. Thus, the treated wastewater types are the most convenient, sustainably achievable, and globally can be afforded both technically and financially.

This project aims to investigate the use of treated wastewater as a replacement for tap water in the concrete mixing and curing stages by studying its impact on mechanical properties such as compressive, tensile, and flexural strength and on physical properties such as workability.

Supervisory team: Rabee Rustum, Dubai, Wee Teo, Malaysia, Benny Suryanto, Edinburgh


This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees (Home and Oversees) and provide an annual stipend (currently £17,668) for 42 months. Thereafter, candidates will be expected to pay a continuing affiliation fee (currently £130) whilst they complete their thesis.


This scholarship is available to Home and Overseas students. The successful candidate is required to be based full-time on campus in Dubai.

To be eligible, applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent experience. Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

We recognise that not every talented researcher will have had the same opportunities to advance their careers. We therefore will account for any particular circumstances that applicants disclose (e.g. parental leave, caring duties, part-time jobs to support studies, disabilities etc.) to ensure an inclusive and fair recruitment process.   

How to apply

To apply you must complete our online application form.

Please select PhD Civil Engineering as the programme and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor name on your application form. You will also need to provide a CV, a supporting statement (1-5 A4 pages) outlining your suitability and how you would approach the project, a copy of your degree certificate(s) and relevant transcripts and an academic reference.

You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already completed a degree that was taught in English within the last 2 years). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Please address informal questions to: Dr Rabee Rustum (

If you have any general queries about the applications process, please contact


The closing date for applications is 17th April 2023 and applicants must be available to start in September 2023.





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