PhD Studentship: Hydrodynamics of Algae Raceway Ponds

University of Southampton

Southampton, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Supervisory Team: Gustavo de Almeida, Sergio Maldonado, Gerald Muller

Project Description

Algae raceway ponds are open-channel systems used to produce algae using sunlight and a source of nutrients. These systems are receiving increasing attention for their potential to be used as an affordable and sustainable source of high-nutrition food, by the cosmetics industry, or even as an alternative source of biofuel. However, in order to achieve economic feasibility and enable this transformation, the efficiency of these systems needs to be substantially improved. Mixing of gases and nutrients by turbulence within the raceway plays a central role in the efficiency of the system. Mixing prevents algae from settling onto the bottom of the raceway, ensures appropriate levels of exposure to sunlight and nutrients, and maximises gas diffusion and exchange between the raceway and the atmosphere. Currently, this is typically achieved by a simplistic approach, whereby paddle wheels enforce a minimum flow velocity within the raceway, which requires substantial energy input. 

In this project you will first perform detailed analysis of mixing processes within existing raceway ponds. This analysis will then be used to create new, optimised designs of these algae production systems. We will be looking into innovative solutions for the design of both raceway ponds and corresponding propulsion systems. The work will be carried out through a combination of laboratory experimentation and numerical modelling. 

The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering as part of the ‘Water and Environmental Engineering Group’ where you will join a vibrant team of students and researchers working in diverse areas of hydraulic and environmental engineering. The successful candidate will also work closely with our industrial partner, and may also conduct field surveys at a real-world, 400 m long raceway pond in South-West Morocco (although this will only be performed if deemed COVID-19 safe). 

About the research environment

Ranked in the top 1% of universities globally and among the UK’s top 20 for research, the University of Southampton has an international reputation for its research, teaching and enterprise activities.

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. University of Southampton holds an Athena Swan Silver Award. The University has a generous maternity policy and onsite childcare facilities; employees are able to participate in the childcare vouchers scheme. 

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Gustavo de Almeida, Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group, Email: [email protected]

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent). 

Closing Date: Applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place. 

Funding: Full tuition fees for EU/UK students, plus for UK students, stipend of £15,285 pa for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply 

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Gustavo de Almeida under the proposed supervisor. 

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online: 

For further information please contact: feps-[email protected]