PhD Studentship: Investigating the Impact of the Dynamics of Water Distribution Systems on Water Pipe Leakage (EPSRC Funded)

The University of Sheffield

Sheffield, , GB

4-years tax-free stipend of £19,000 per year and all tuition fees paid

A partnership between The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Water Centre and UKWIR, as part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience.

Start date: 28th September 2020 (contract duration 4 years)

This fully funded project provides the unrivalled opportunity to undertake physical experiments to understand how dynamic conditions due to changes in flow in water supply pipes contribute to leakage. The project will utilise the unique opportunities of the new facilities of ICAIR ( to undertake full scale, buried pipe, experiments under carefully controlled and managed conditions. The experiments will be planned and the results analysed and interpreted together with previously collected real world data to determine how fatigue based mechanisms contribute to leakage.

Despite large amounts of investment in the networks by the water companies, leakage of treated water from buried pipes remains a major problem for the water industry worldwide. Research has investigated the impact of pressure transients on large pipe bursts, but the insidious impact they have on leakage has not been investigated. It is essential that we understand the combinations and interactions of loading that contribute to leakage. Dynamic loading is believed to be a key but little understood factor in this. By understanding this we can minimise the impacts and thus maximise the useful lifetime of pipes.

The project is supported by UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research, representing all of the UK water companies – as part of their Zero Leakage Big Question. This close industry collaboration will ensure that the derived understanding is applicable and will have a transformative impact to reduce leakage and hence help secure future water supply.

The PhD will be part of WIRe (Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience). WIRe is a collaboration between the three leading UK Universities in water resilient infrastructure. Students will benefit from a bespoke training scheme delivered by world leading authorities from academia and industry, access to world leading experimental and computational facilities as well as close and regular contact with industry and end user partners. Resources are also available for international collaboration and conference attendance. WIRe is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive community, and offer a range of family friendly, inclusive employment policies. For further information on the CDT WIRe scheme, visit the web site at:

The project will be supervised by Dr Richard Collins and Prof Joby Boxall at the University of Sheffield in collaboration with partners from UKWIR. The normal place of work is expected to be at the University of Sheffield, with close regular interaction with UKWIR and through them water company collaborators.

Eligibility Criteria

Normal EPSRC funding eligibility applies to this award, so students must have a relevant connection with the UK (usually established by residence).

The selection criteria for the position are a good first degree in relevant science or engineering discipline and enthusiasm and passion for the topic area.

How to apply

Interested candidates should email a covering letter and their Curriculum

Vitae to Lindsay Hopcroft ([email protected]).

For information and informal enquiries please contact Prof. Joby Boxall ([email protected])





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development