Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying and will be supervised by Dr Mohammed Ali and Dr Muhammad Ali.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Development of a sustainable water management system covering techniques to recirculate, reuse and treat water from minerals handling operations.
  • Undertake a water audit for quarrying/mineral extraction processes including the water usage for the production of man-made aggregates and related construction materials.
  • Develop a clear understanding of water chemistry and recommend options for the treatment of wastewater generated from the recycling of aggregate/minerals.

The mineral/aggregates industry uses large quantities of clean water, which is typically extracted from a groundwater source. The water is used for dust suppression (spraying), washing aggregates, cutting & carving rocks, concrete and asphalt production, preparing recycled aggregates and for vehicle wheel wash etc. A majority of aggregate producers are unaware of the actual amount of water consumed for their daily operations. Moreover, there are no/little processes in place for the recirculation and treatment of water. The used water and run-off from the aggregate stockpiles as well as the leachate generated from recycling aggregates ends-up in a lagoon/detention ponds, which potentially contains high concentrations of both dissolved elements and suspended materials. The waters retained in these lagoons are neither treated nor reused for any other operations.

This project will develop sustainable water management plans, to include assessment of site drainage, run-off calculations and establishing water reuse techniques. In-depth laboratory studies on water chemistry and developing a laboratory test rig to monitor leaching of toxic elements will also be part of the study. The research will develop protocols for water recirculation and recommend improvements to regulatory bodies.

The supervisory team will utilise its contacts with various aggregate producers (Gallagher/TJ Waste/Fortis IBA) to deliver the project. This will involve regular site visits to assess variation in operational processes, calculate water usage and demand through several tools including computer modelling.

The outcomes of this study will form a blueprint for dealing with runoff/leachate generated from various mining/mineral handling operations allowing a reduction in freshwater consumption, recommend strategies for on-site wastewater treatment and its reuse, thus enhancing the natural environment by mitigating the local impacts of climate change. Moreover, this project will allow the SCES and the construction materials industry to develop Environmental Stewardship for water/wastewater management in both quarrying and material handling operations.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry reqiuirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.  English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You will ideally have experience of working for a water utility company or construction materials supplier. A working knowledge of water management software/tools will be a bonus.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Mohammed Ali ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Civil Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: SCES5321021