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Introduction Water is the most important natural resource on earth. With an ever growing demand on limited water resources, it is essential that we approach sustainable water management in an innovative and integrated way. Our academics at the University of Bath are working extensively with the water industry and other stakeholders to address the major challenges faced by the sector and apply their research findings. Our collaboration with international institutions is ensuring that our research has a global impact. Included is information we hope you will find of interest on our research expertise covering water treatment, water resources, water management, water and public health, and water environment and infrastructure resilience. We also highlight how we are delivering the innovation and internationalisation of our water research. Please refer to the working with us page if you are interested in collaborating or engaging with us in water research.


Contents Water Treatment


Water Resources


Water Management


Water and Public Health


Water Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR)


Supporting Water Research Innovation


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)


Industry Partners


Internationalisation of Water Research


International Partners


Working With Us



Water Treatment Testing Natural Systems for Cleaning Waste Water • We are testing various natural systems for cleaning waste water. We are looking into using natural systems such as reed beds and algae to remove nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorous from waste water. The resulting plant mass can then be used as cattle feed or to make biofuels. Professor Rod Scott, with Professor David Leak and Dr Tom Arnot, are working with Wessex Water to investigate the potential of these systems.

Turning Sewage into Fuel • Could greater amounts of biogas be produced from bacteria removed from the sewage treatment process? After primary solids are removed from sewage by sedimentation, the second stage of water treatment uses bacteria to digest the soluble contaminants. The spent bacteria, known as activated sludge, are removed from the clean water and combined with the primary solids. We are looking at how these combined solids can be used in advanced anaerobic digesters to produce enhanced amounts of biogas. Dr Tom Arnot, with Professor David Leak and Professor Rod Scott, are working with Wessex Water to increase energy recovery in this process, as well as capture of nutrients.

Using New Technologies to Clean Water • Waste seashells from the food industry are a potential sustainable way of removing chemicals from waste water. We are using waste seashells, with research led by Dr Darrell Patterson, to create a cheaper and more sustainable way of cleaning waste water to remove traces of chemicals such as hormones, pharmaceuticals or fertilisers from water. This process normally uses titanium dioxide which is expensive. By replacing this with a material from the calcium from seashells, we are aiming to significantly reduce the cost of the process, while reusing a renewable waste product.


Water Treatment Heat Recovery from Water •

Domestic wastewater contains large amounts of thermal energy. Heat recovery with heat pumps is an interesting option to reduce the use of primary energy sources and greenhouse gas emissions.

The production of warm water for household use requires relatively high amounts of energy, often 10-20 times more than the energy used for treating and distributing drinking water and collecting and treating wastewater. In a modern house the amount of thermal energy lost via wastewater is 30-50% of the total energy loss. Heat recovery may therefore be an interesting option to increase sustainable use of water and energy for domestic use and a cost saving and sustainable option for industrial uses. Possibilities for thermal energy recovery in the UK are being investigated by Professor Jan Hofman.

Drinking Water Quality and Water Resource Protection Using Oxidative Water Treatment • Oxidative treatment is an important technology that has been used to purify our drinking water by eliminating harmful pathogens. Chemical oxidants, such as ozone, are also used to facilitate other treatment processes and to eliminate trace contaminants from both drinking and waste water. The latter process is especially important in water recycling applications and to reduce contaminants in vulnerable ecosystems and downstream drinking water resources. This research strand, led by Dr Jannis Wenk, aims to investigate novel oxidative treatment technologies and to implement these into existing water treatment schemes, for example when current operations fail to achieve proper treatment for contaminants or an overall improvement of water quality is desired.

Membrane Science and Engineering • We are the largest academic cluster in the UK focusing on membrane research and development. The membranes cluster, co-ordinated by Dr Darrell Patterson, is the largest group in the UK working on the topic, and has areas of expertise in: application of membranes for separations and fractionation, bespoke membrane fabrication, fouling and cleaning of membrane systems, membrane reactors and bioreactors, stimuli responsive (smart membranes) for tuneable separations, manufacturing with membranes and modelling of membrane processes. membranes/ 


Water Resources Impact of Water Availability on Food Security • Even as Britain is affected by flood, drought induced food shortages are just around the corner. We are looking at the water used to produce Britain’s most economically significant and climatesensitive imports such as crops, meat, fish, fuels, pharmaceuticals and paper. This research, led by Dr Alistair Hunt, aims to determine the security of Britain’s future supply chains.

Water Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa • Rapid agrarian change and water resources in sub-Saharan Africa. We are committed to understanding the complex, diverse and socially embedded livelihoods of people in sub-Saharan Africa in the context of rapid agrarian change. A key component of this work, led by Dr Roy Maconachie, focuses on access to water resources, the governance and management of water resources, and sustainable water use in food production.


Water Management Engaging Users in Sustainability Behaviour Change • New ways of engaging with the public are helping water companies look after our most precious resource. Sustainability-oriented behaviour change is complex and requires users, communities, industry, universities and NGOs to play a joint role. With research led by Dr Svenja Tams, we are working with Wessex Water to develop new ways of engaging users in sustainable water and waste water use. Our research examines how organizations, communities and end-users can collaboratively address water and waste water challenges.

Investment Decisions for the Water Industry • Lifetime assessments help water companies balance cost and environment. With research led by Dr Marcelle McManus and Dr Linda Newnes, we are helping the water industry make informed investment decisions as to where best to site new treatment works to balance supply and demand, whilst minimising environmental impact. This work is adopting a new catchment based approach to water and asset management.

Understanding and Influencing Consumer Behaviour • A better understanding of public behaviour can help to explain water management actions. With research led by Professor Michael Finus, we are looking at how social norms and environmental concern can influence an individual’s choices to live a more sustainable lifestyle, which includes water use.


Water and Public Health Electric Bugs Used to Detect Water Pollution • We have developed a low-cost device that could be used in developing countries to monitor the quality of drinking water. In collaboration with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England, we have created a low cost sensor using 3D printing technology, led by Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, that can be used directly in rivers and lakes for continuous water quality monitoring. The sensor contains bacteria that produce a small measurable electric current as they feed and grow. When the bacteria are disturbed by coming into contact with toxins in the water, the electric current drops, alerting to the presence of pollutants in the water.

Detecting Diseases in Drinking Water • We are developing more efficient ways of detecting fatal microbes in water. The microbe Cryptosporidium in drinking water causes severe diarrhoea, especially in young children. It is resistant to many water treatment methods, and water supplies must be monitored daily. Current detection methods are slow and expensive, requiring microscopic examination by skilled scientists. With research led by Professor Tim Birks, we are developing an instrument for rapidly detecting Cryptosporidium, by looking for its ‘fingerprint’ which is found in scattered laser light. The next step is to extend this technology to the detection of other pathogens.

Sewage Profiling at the Community Level (SEWPROF) • We are part of a €4.2 million research project to develop new technology for public health monitoring. Sewage Profiling at the Community Level, known as SEWPROF, is a €4.2 million training network to develop interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research capability for the next generation of scientists working in the newly-emerging field of sewage epidemiology. We have developed techniques, led by Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, to detect micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs and personal care products in the water system. We are also studying chemicals in waste water to determine whether the population in a particular area suffers from health issues such as cancer or infectious diseases at a particularly high level. This is a newly-emerging interdisciplinary field with a potential to provide an integrated real-time early-warning assessment of community-wide health.


Water and Public Health Fate and Risks of Pharmaceuticals and Metabolites •

Pharmaceuticals and metabolites are present in surface water and groundwater. Concentrations are too low to give human health threats, but effects for aquatic life have been demonstrated.

People taking medicines excrete most of these compounds and their metabolites via urine, which reach the wastewater treatment plants via the sewer system. Most treatment systems provide only a partial barrier and the pharmaceuticals will be discharged into receiving water bodies. An international consortium with partners throughout Europe is being set-up by Professor Jan Hofman to model the fate of pharmaceutical compounds in the water system. Their spatial distribution will be in relation to the environmental risks, for example risks to water intakes for drinking water production and natural ecosystems.

Chemical Sensors for Water Pollutants • We are developing nano-sized chemical sensors with the aim of picking out extremely low levels of dangerous compounds in the environment. Currently, testing for these compounds requires specialist equipment, making it a slow and expensive process. By developing small, cheap sensors this research aims to make detection instant. The group led by Professor Frank Marken is developing junction sensors giving off signals which alert researchers to the presence of pollutants. These technologies could allow researchers to detect minute quantities of dangerous compounds in the environment allowing those monitoring contaminants to do so at lower cost and with greater opportunity for timely intervention.

Studying Chemical Pollution in Urban Water • We are studying emerging threats and concerns resulting from chemical pollution in urban water. The project focuses on chemical pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, pesticides and industrial chemicals. The research led by Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, in collaboration with Wessex Water, will provide better understanding of ecological and human health risks from chemical pollutants released into receiving environments with treated wastewater. We will also aim to identify target compounds which can act as indicators of water contamination.


Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) The Research Unit for Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) comprises research in water quality, urban hydrology, coastal, river and urban flooding prediction and mitigation, environmental hazard analysis, sustainable infrastructure design and renewable energy from marine and hydro sources.

Water Resources Engineering We research the physical drivers of water quality in lakes, reservoirs and the ocean where changes in temperature or salinity restrict the vertical mixing of nutrients, oxygen, sediments and pollutants, with research led by Dr Danielle Wain and Dr Lee Bryant. Recent research, led by Dr Thomas Kjeldsen, aims to understand the effect of environmental change, including climate change, urbanisation, and land-use management, on water resources systems.

Natural Hazards Key research topics being pursued within WEIR aim to develop new and improved tools for engineers to better understand and predict both the magnitude and the frequency of future extreme events, and how such events interact with both the natural and the built environment. The expertise within the group includes frequency analysis of extreme events, and hydrological design flood modelling, led by Dr Thomas Kjeldsen; and numerical modelling of urban and coastal flooding, and modelling and monitoring of coastal and marine processes, led by Dr Jun Zang and Dr Chris Blenkinsopp.


Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) Coastal and Ocean Engineering We are using large-scale field and laboratory experiments, led by Dr Chris Blenkinsopp, to look at how energy is dissipated when waves break onto the shore, in order to develop new methods of predicting sand movement and coastal processes. We also use numerical simulations, led by Dr Jun Zang, Director of WEIR, to predict extreme wave impact on coastal and offshore structures, ensuring that such structures including marine renewable energy devices survive extreme conditions.

Infrastructure Resilience Our research aims to understand infrastructure resilience to environmental change by measuring and modelling the impact of extreme events on transport infrastructure earthworks such as railway embankments and road cuttings. This research, led by Dr Kevin Briggs, will allow infrastructure owners and operators to improve resource allocation, prioritise maintenance of ‘at risk’ structures and proactively prepare for extreme weather events.


Supporting Water Research Innovation The University is focused on supporting water research innovation of international excellence and impact. This is being driven by very prominent, multi-disciplinary, research Institutes and Centres at the University of Bath; through our Impact Acceleration Account (IAA); Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT); and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. Here are several examples of how we support the innovation of water research.

Research Centres Water Innovation and Research Centre @ Bath (WIRC @ Bath)

Institute of Sustainable Energy and the Environment (I-SEE)

Wessex Water helped to support the University’s Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC @ Bath), to consolidate important multidisciplinary work for the benefit of all water industry stakeholders in the UK and abroad. It is anticipated that the results of the research, conducted through WIRC, will help with problems of water availability and pollution in poorer countries as well as the EU and UK water industries. Developing countries have populations who are in desperate need of humanitarian support to ensure safe secure drinking water and sewage treatment systems that are effective and affordable.

The Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (I-SEE) aims to discuss, connect and integrate energy and environment research. The Institute focuses on the natural and engineering sciences, with partnerships in the social, economic, and political sciences and in policy.

The Centre has been funded with £1.5 million investment from Wessex Water and match funded with £1.4 million from the University, including EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account funding. This will support the Centre in its drive for global recognition for the quality of water innovation and research, and the impact it delivers. Academic staff associated with WIRC have significant funding in water research, with a current value of £10 million.

Reflecting this increasing importance, the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) builds bridges with other researchers across the University to develop strong, multidisciplinary research teams that explore a range of emerging themes, such as Environment and Sustainability, including work on water resources.

Centre for Space Atmospheric and Ocean Science (CSAOS)

The Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) is a £2 million fund, awarded to the University from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to maximise the impact of EPSRC research. The investment of this funding includes a £500,000 contribution towards a research and development collaboration with Wessex Water. The deal, worth more than £3 million, is a major interdisciplinary programme which will allow five streams of research to be carried out, as highlighted in our research expertise.

The Centre for Space Atmospheric and Oceanic Science uses a radar network spanning the globe to study the atmosphere, oceans and near-earth space. We address fundamental problems in the natural environment of the Earth, its atmosphere, ionosphere and oceans.


Institute for Policy Research (IPR) Environmental issues are prominent in many areas of policy design - from global security to water, energy, health and education.

Impact Acceleration Account (IAA)

Centres for Doctoral Training The University of Bath’s Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) offer companies the opportunity to initiate innovative research that gives them a competitive advantage. Over the next decade the University has funding for up to 200 studentships making it cost effective for you to work with Bath. These four year programmes allow high quality collaborations between academia and industry, where the highest quality graduates conduct cutting-edge applied research with a business focus. Here is a summary of the highly successful water related CDTs we run at Bath, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with a variety of academic and industry partners. Water Informatics: Science and Engineering (WISE) This GW4 Centre for Doctoral Training brings together the four universities of Exeter, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff, all of which have internationally competitive research groups within the subject areas of water informatics, science and engineering. Combining traditionally separate disciplines with sustainable water management, from statistics to social sciences, geography, psychology and economics, this centre-of-excellence acts as a hub of international and industrial collaborations. Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) The Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) includes research into energy and water, such as sustainable solar cells, energy storage and batteries, sustainable water supply, water cycle and human health. Collaborative projects developed in the CSCT have led to funded research projects of more than £20 million in the last five years.


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) is a UK wide programme, funded by Innovate UK, which enables companies and the public sector to access knowledge, skills and technology from the UK Universities. Partnerships can cover any important area where there is a need for additional expertise and resources, for dynamic organisations to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance. The University of Bath is number one in the South West for KTPs and in the top ten nationally. Here is an example of a successful KTP focusing on water research we have been awarded. Providing a Safer Environment for Marine Mammals The University has worked on several KTPs with Seiche Measurements Ltd, a company at the forefront in the design, development and manufacture of underwater measurement and acoustic systems. These KTPs, led by Dr Philippe Blondel, were set up to identify the optimal surveying strategy to monitor noise in complex and dynamic underwater environments, where and how far noise propagates, and the best way to define effective and evidence-based marine mammal exclusion zones. This will ultimately result in a safer environment for marine mammals.


Industry Partners Here are some of our industrial collaborators who are supporting us in this increasingly important area of water research. Arup Group Ltd Halcrow Group Ltd HPC Wales HR Wallingford IBM UK Ltd i2O Water KWR Watercycle Research Institute Norwegian Institute for Water Research Optoscribe OSIsoft UK Ltd Renishaw RMS Sanford Ltd Scottish Water Seiche Measurements Ltd Shimadzu Corporation Syrinix TICTAC Communications Ltd Toshiba Research Europe Ltd Wessex Water Services Ltd XP Solutions

Other Research Partners Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England (UWE) Committee on Climate Change Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Environment Agency European Commission (EC) European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction European Space Agency Innovate UK Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) JBA Trust Leverhulme Trust Met Office Ministry of Defence (MoD) National Resources Wales Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) NGOs Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Smart Water Networks Forum Welsh Government


Internationalisation of Water Research The University of Bath is committed to the internationalisation of globally relevant research excellence, attracting world leaders in the field of water research and nurturing researchers of the future. Here are examples highlighting the global reach of our internationally recognised, integrated water research.

Emory University, USA

Stellenbosch Univeristy, South Africa

The Raymond F. Schinazi International Exchange Programme (SIEP) supports faculty, postdoctoral and PhD exchanges between Emory University in Atlanta, USA and the University of Bath to further research and education in key areas of scientific excellence.

We are research partners with the Stellenbosch Water Institute, South Africa, and together we are working on topics relating to membrane technology, rainwater harvesting, exploitation of algae, nano-filtration of water, water recycling, water quality monitoring, and water policy across Africa.

With academics at Emory University’s Centre for Global Safe Water, it was agreed by combining the University of Bath’s multi-disciplinary expertise in sustainable water, and practical interests of both universities, that progress can be made towards providing safe water throughout the world. We are working to develop new collaborative research projects.


International Partners Here are some of our European and international academic partners who are collaborating with us in this increasingly important area of water research.

European Research Collaborators

International Research Collaborators

Catalan Institute for Water Research Eawag Aquatic Research Institute École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Euroaquae Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) LEGOS, France Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research Saarland University Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Technical University of Denmark UNESCO-IHE University of the Algarve University of Amsterdam University of Antwerp Toxicological Center University of Braunschweig University of Bordeaux University Jaume, Research Institute for Pesticides and Water University of Oslo, Centre for Drug and Addiction Research University of Utrecht

Columbia University Cornell University Duke University Emory University Georgia Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia National University of Singapore Ohio State University Pennsylvania State University South Korean Government Stanford University Stellenbosch University Tsinghua University United States Geological Survey United States Science Foundation Universidade de São Paulo University of Auckland University of Delaware University of Minnesota University of New South Wales University of Queensland Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria University of Texas at Austin Universidad de Valparaiso Yonsei University


Working With Us Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath is the primary conduit for industry, business and other funders to access the research expertise and knowledge at the University of Bath. If you would be interested in collaborating or engaging with us please contact: Dr Izaro Lopez Garcia, Business Development Manager Research and Innovation Services (RIS) Email: Tel: +44 (0)1225 38 3904 Further information on Research and Innovation Services (RIS)


Working With Us For all enquiries regarding water research please contact: Dr Sarah Eliot, Research Project Coordinator Email: For further information on our water research please visit


University of Bath Water Research  

Working extensively with the water industry and other stakeholders to address the major challenges faced by the sector and apply their resea...

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