Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Predicting future change in water flows and quality in urbanising catchments

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📥  Other

We are very happy to be able to invite Dr Michael Hutchins from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) to host the first Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering (ACE) Seminar and WIRC Colloquium on Thursday 17th November 2016. Mike will discuss "Predicting future change in water flows and quality in urbanising catchments".

Mike is a Senior Water Quality Modeller at Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Wallingford). His research has focused mainly on two areas, diffuse pollution and in-river processes, and understanding their effects in large river basins. He studies phytoplankton and dissolved oxygen dynamics using river quality models. The majority of his research is focused towards providing support to policies implementing legislation under the Water Framework Directive. More recently he has been leading a NERC Changing Water Cycle project “Changes in urbanisation and its effects on water quantity and quality from local to regional scale” (POLL-CURB).

Despite substantial improvements in the recent past brought about by investment in treatment of sewage and industrial wastes, and various incentives and regulations to reduce diffuse pollution, water resources in the UK are facing considerable future pressures. For example, previous modelling work in the River Thames suggests incidence of “undesirable” water quality will become more frequent in the future. Furthermore, these predictions were made without considering the impact of population growth. Here, we present a combination of approaches to evaluate impacts of urbanisation on water resources in the 9948 km2 Thames basin. Empirical analysis of two years of monitoring data in intensely monitored sub-catchments reveal the degree to which spatial variability of hydrological and water quality response can be explained by indices of impervious area. Statistical detection and attribution techniques are used to assess long-term river data, and these highlight strong signals of urban growth after climate variability is accounted for. High-resolution continuous monitoring puts the extreme periods of storm conditions in winter 2013-14 in the context of annual cycles of water quality. We illustrate how the high-resolution monitoring programme is used to simulate river hydrochemistry, and in particular to indicate how far downstream of urban areas the influence of those areas persist. At the basin scale, analysis of satellite imagery reveals landuse changes since the mid-1980s, signals used to train cellular automata models which then are employed for predictive purposes under different scenarios of urban development. We show how parametrically-parsimonious models of hydrology, sediment delivery and water quality are driven by the future landuse data to refine the existing predictions of future change in water resources across the whole Thames basin.

For more information, please contact Dr Danielle Wain.


World Tsunami Awareness day

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

Dr Philippe Blondel, an Associate at the WIRC @ Bath, is featured in the recent International Business Times (IBT) news for the World Tsunami Awareness Day, 5th November 2016. He told IBT that "increased international efforts are necessary to map oceans. Indeed, as we map the seabed we discover more and more risky seismic areas as well as areas that have a potential of landslide. In theory, we know have completely mapped the ocean floor, but these maps are not completely accurate".

Dr Philippe Blondel's research interests include

  • marine acoustics
  • seabed and habitat mapping
  • ambient noise underwater
  • marine renewable energies
  • innovative imaging tool



The Value of Global Sensitivity Analysis for Diagnostic Evaluation and Uncertainty Quantification in Environmental Modelling

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📥  Other

Come and join us for the next WIRC Colloquium on 15th September 2016 by Professor Thorsten Wagener, University of Bristol.

Thorsten Wagener

Thursday 15 September 2016 at 1.15pm

Room 8 West 2.5, University of Bath

Computer models are a cornerstone of scientific exploration and practical decision-making in engineering, environmental science, ecology and earth systems modelling. Our group develops tools, theory and guidance for the use of Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) to analyse such computer models. I will present examples of how GSA can be used for (1) the diagnostic evaluation of hydrological models – how can we improve our model structures? (2) For understanding future landslide risk – how can we provide useful guidance for decision makers in the presence of unknown uncertainties? And (3) for quantifying the space-time varying uncertainty in flood inundation modelling – how can we understand the complex interactions of different sources of uncertainty? These examples highlight the variety of uses for GSA in the context of building and using models across a wide range of application areas.

The examples shown have been implemented using the SAFE Toolbox that integrates key GSA methods in a single environment. Free Matlab and R versions of the SAFE Toolbox for Global Sensitivity Analysis are available.

Co-authors: Francesca Pianosi, Fanny Sarrazin, Susana Almeida, Liz Holcombe


Bioprocesses, biopolymers and biosensors: delivering new solutions to environmental problems through and understanding of microbial systems

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

By Dr Thomas Seviour, MIChemE CEng, SCELCE, NTU (Singapore)


When: Thursday 23th June at 1.15pm
Where: Room 2.01, Building 1 West, University of Bath

Abstract: Cells mediate interactions with the environment through their membranes and extracellular matrices, which comprise a range of biopolymers that facilitate key extracellular processes. These interfaces can be exploited to increase stability, yield and throughput in Bioprocesses, particularly in areas of waste treatment and biofuel production. The Biopolymers that make up the matrix are themselves very valuable and renewable resources. Agents to monitor extracellular processes present as attractive Biosensors for a range of biofilm-mediated maladies. This seminar will discuss how an understanding of microbial systems can be used to deliver new solutions to a range of complex environmental problems, by increasing yield and stability of Bioprocesses, promoting the solubilisation and recovery of Biopolymers, and developing Biosensors for use in diagnostics.

Biography: Dr Thomas Seviour is a Senior Research Fellow at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University. He worked previously as a wastewater process engineer and engineering consultant, but has since changed tact and now applies himself to elucidating the biological chemistry of microbial systems, with a particular focus on biointerfaces such as the the exopolymeric matrix. He remains motivated by a desire to translate this knowledge to real world solutions for a range of various environmental problems.


Chemistry and Water: Challenges & Solutions in a Changing World


📥  Water Resources, Water Treatment, Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

We are all aware of the breadth of issues that we face as a planet when it comes to securing sustainable water supplies in the future. Global changes in climate, land use and demographics mean that there will be different pressures on water availability and quality and these have the potential to affect human health and the environment. Whilst some challenges are long-standing, such as ensuring adequate sanitation for all, we also face emerging issues, in the form of new pollutants, such as hormones and pharmaceuticals.

Last year in Leipzig, leading scientists from China, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA met at the 6th Chemical Sciences in Society Symposium (CS3) to discuss how chemistry could contribute to future global water security. The meeting is part of an ongoing series that brings together leading scientists from these nations, with the support of their national chemical societies and national funding bodies to discuss the role of the chemical sciences in different global challenges.

The discussions from the meeting have been captured in the recently launched white paper Chemistry and Water: Challenges and Solutions in Changing World, which highlights the future research directions, collaborations and policies that are needed to ensure global water needs can be met in the future. The discussion at the meeting encompassed wide range of issues, including the link between water, the environment and human health, the need for ever-evolving detection methods, improved water treatment techniques and the opportunities presented for recovering valuable materials from water.

A number of themes emerged from discussions across all areas, such as the need for chemists to work alongside other disciplines, such as engineering, ecology and epidemiology and the importance of continual international knowledge exchange and collaboration.  The white paper also makes more detailed recommendations for research directions in the different themes of environment and health, detection, treatment and recovery of materials and includes case studies on how water challenges are being tackled in each nation.


AI-Based Detection and Location of Events in Smart Water Networks

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📥  Other

Professor Zolan Kapelan from the University of Exeter will deliver a presentation on "AI-Based Detection and Location of Events in Smart Water Networks" at the next WIRC Colloquium.

Water leakage is a major issue in water supply and distribution systems in the UK and worldwide. In the UK alone, approximately 20% of the water that enters distribution systems is lost. This talk focuses on the presentation of a specific new technology that enables detection and location of pipe burst/leaks and other events (such as equipment failures) by analysing pressure and flow sensor data coming from the pipe network. The new technology makes use of several Artificial Intelligence based data analytics which are able to extract useful information from large quantities of observed data, raise suitable alarms and locate events in near real-time. Elements of this technology were built recently into the Event Recognition System, a commercial system that is now used companywide in one of the largest UK water utilities. The talk will conclude with a brief overview of other smart water technologies currently developed by the speaker.

More information can be found on WIRC events page.


Water Quality Monitoring and Electricity from Wastewaters with Microbial Fuel Cells

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This May sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Water Quality Monitoring and Electricity from Wastewaters with Microbial Fuel Cells

Speaker: Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo


When: Tuesday 10th May 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.7, Building 3 West, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that, by taking advances of metabolic pathways in microorganisms, directly convert the chemical energy of organic compounds into electricity. In recent years, MFCs have raised great attention as sustainable and clean energy-conversion technology capable of utilising a wide range of organic fuels, including wastewater from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources.



WIRC @ Bath attends 17th edition of IWA-UK Young Water Professionals Conference

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📥  Other, WIRC @ Bath

A delegation from Bath attended the 17th edition of the UK Young Water Professionals Conference in Norwich – organised jointly by the International Water Association (IWA), Anglian Water and the University of East Anglia. The conference, held from the 30th of March to the 1st of April 2016, included a varied programme around the topics of People, Planet and Profit and gathered more than 100 delegates from a diverse background of water industries and universities. The core of the conference was to provide young water professionals with an opportunity to develop their career by building their network and by understanding the opportunities within the water sector. Among the many well organised sessions, there was the opportunity to benefit from professional development advice from senior professionals, interesting keynote presentations on the three main topics as well as extremely engaging presentations from many postgraduate students and young professionals either in the panel sessions and the highly interactive poster sessions.

One of the panel sessions

One of the panel sessions

Chrysoula Papacharalampou was invited to present her work in the panel session on “Planet” on the topic of an integrated asset management methodology that she has been developing together with Wessex Water. Jon Chouler, Ellaine Gallagher and Fernanda Souza presented their work on “Microbial Fuel Cells”, “Behavioural studies for water use patterns” and “Treatment of a hospital wastewater by advanced oxidation processes” respectively at the poster sessions.

The conference came to an end but not before a terrific dinner, organised at the Saint Andrews Halls for Water Aid and where Jon Chouler took home the prize for best poster presentation!

Group photo before the dinner, (from left to right) Jon Chouler, Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Ana Lanham, Elaine Gallagher, Yen Chua, Fernanda Souza.

Group photo before the dinner, (from left to right) Jon Chouler, Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Ana Lanham, Elaine Gallagher, Yen Chua, Fernanda Souza.

Here’s what our delegates from Bath had to say about the conference:

Jon Chouler - PhD researcher, Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technology, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

“The conference was a great opportunity to actively engage with water professionals of various backgrounds about my research. The fact that the conference was for young professionals not only made interaction easier, it also added a great energy to the two days. I was able to discuss my research in great detail to many interested people, which no doubt will help me sculpt my research in the future- especially towards industrial application.”

Fernanda Souza - PhD researcher, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre/RS, Brazil) & visiting researcher, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

“The conference was a good networking opportunity from both academia and industry and generated a lot of ideas to expand skills and professional qualifications.”

Chrysoula Papacharalampou - PhD Researcher, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

“Participating at the 17th IWA YWP conference was a great opportunity not only to meet and mingle with other young water professionals, but also to present the outcomes of our ongoing research project and discuss with peers its relevance with the current challenges faced by the UK water sector. During the event, the presence of industry and professional organisations, like the Institute of Water or the Institute of Asset Management, allowed for networking and for exploration of job opportunities beyond academia.”

Visiting tour to water treatment plant of Anglian Water

Visiting tour to water treatment plant of Anglian Water

Ana Lanham - Lecturer, Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC), Dept. of Chemical Engineering

“This was an opportunity to have a broad understanding of the diversity within the UK water sector and to meet new interesting people across the board. It was also a fantastic opportunity to become more connected with the IWA activities in the UK, having in mind that with the establishment of WIRC as a dynamic research centre it is important to connect our growing community of staff and postgraduate students with the international community of water professionals.

Elaine Gallagher – PhD Researcher, Dept. of Psychology

“Having been uncertain as to how useful the conference would be for someone with a psychology background I was really pleasantly surprised that it was incredibly relevant with a great mix of people from a variety of backgrounds. It was a great opportunity to both network and discuss my research in a very welcoming environment with other young researchers. It was also very useful in terms of awareness of future opportunities in the sector.”

Yen Chua – Postdoctoral Research Associate, Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering (CASE), Dept. of Chemical Engineering

“Meeting with people from industries and other areas in water research helps in generating lots of ideas. As a member of CASE, it was a great platform to understand the current limitation in materials technologies for water treatment and separation, as well as creating network with water industries and young researchers for future collaborations.”


Reactor development for water treatment

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📥  Water Treatment, WIRC @ Bath

This April sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Reactor development for water treatment: From macro to micro scale using bacterial cells, photocatalysis and enzymes

Speaker: Dr Emma Emanuelsson


When: Thursday 28th April 2016 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 4.10, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Many industries generate wastewaters that are not suitable for conventional biological wastewater treatment. This could be due to the presence of ‘hard to degrade’ compounds such as pesticides, chlorinated and volatile organic compounds or high concentration of detergents or fats. Other contaminants, such as salts, acids, alkali and metals, may also be toxic to the microorganisms and thus jeopardise the treatment. These wastewaters must therefore be treated before they can be sent to a wastewater treatment plant. The interesting challenge is that there is no ‘standardised approach’, instead a variety of strategies are required to deal with these various contaminants.



The Photochemistry of Rivers, Lakes and Engineered Low-Energy Treatment Systems

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📥  Other, Water Treatment, WIRC @ Bath

This April sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: The Photochemistry of Rivers, Lakes and Engineered Low-Energy Treatment Systems

Speaker: Dr Jannis Wenk


When: Tuesday 12th April 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The importance of photochemical processes on the fate of aquatic contaminants is widely underestimated. This lecture summarizes highlights of my own studies and discusses them in relation to recent important advancements in the field of environmental photochemistry, with emphasis on reaction mechanisms, monitoring and modelling of photochemical processes in water bodies. Systematic use of natural sunlight for improving water quality in constructed open water systems such as wetlands and stormwater reservoirs will be considered. The presentation is especially addressed to an audience that is unfamiliar with this area of research as I will provide an introduction to the photophysical and photochemical processes that generate a wide range of short-lived reactive species in the upper layer of sunlit surface waters. Along the way I will also explain what the colour of water is.

Contact: Please email Shan Bradley-Cong if you need any further information.