PhD - Vacuum UV used Advanced Oxidation Processes for removal of persistent micropollutants

PhD - Vacuum UV used Advanced Oxidation Processes for removal of persistent micropollutants

Netherlands 17 Jun 2021


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Host Country
17 Jun 2021
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Wetsus and partners have developed improved UV technologies to degrade organic micropollutants in drinking water sources. By using shorter UV wavelengths than conventional UV technology, hydroxyl (•OH) radicals breaking down the pollutants, are

more efficiently generated. As a result, in laboratory tests and pilot tests a more effective oxidation of these pollutants is achieved, consuming less energy, without the need of additional oxidizing chemicals, like hydrogen peroxide.

Research Challenge

Further investigation is needed into the suitability and applicability of the rich photochemistry provided by vacuum UV irradiation to eliminate even the most persistent chemicals like PFAS from water. Special attention need to be given to the risk for generating secondary water quality hazards, e.g. unwanted byproducts, resulting from the oxidation and reduction reactions. Verification and data analysis as well as process engineering and design of new reactors will be supported by advanced numerical modelling techniques including chemical models, flow models (Computational Fluid Dynamics), and irradiation models, which will in fact constitute a main tool in the study.


The PhD project thus entails two major parts: photochemical experiments and numerical modelling. Hence, we are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in the field of chemical engineering with strong knowledge in at least one of the following areas (ideally both): (1) Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs) and/or photochemistry, and (2) Numerical modeling of AOP (e.g. reaction kinetics, irradiation models, CFD models). Familiarity and sufficient knowledge drinking and reclaimed water treatment is desirable. Ability to perform water quality experiments and technology assessment at laboratory and pilot scale is highly desirable.


The PhD project will benefit from the extensive collaboration already taking place among the various institutions involved in this theme. As such, the PhD candidate selected for this project may be requested to travel in various geographies where some sponsoring institutions are headquartered (Spain, Canada and USA, beside Netherlands) and may spend some periods of this doctorate in the form of internships in their premises.  

The research project will be part of the Wetsus research theme “Priority Compounds & Virus Control”. The following companies are part of the theme: Brown & Caldwell (USA), Trojan Technologies (Canada), PWN Technologies (The Netherlands), AquaNirvana Foundation (Norway).

The PhD student will be based at Wetsus in Leeuwarden and co-supervised by the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA, Spain).

Promotor: Dr. Wolfgang Gernjak (ICRA, University of Girona)

Wetsus supervisor: Dr. Bas Wols

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