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Water and Air Quality

Our environmental engineering research is an active and expanding area

Research areas cover water technology, environmental analysis and environmental chemistry and contribute to work within Environmental and Energy Engineering research. Projects have been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the EU, Defra, SEEDA and industry.

Research interests

Activity in this area at LSBU has five main themes:

Wastewater treatment technology
The UMBR™ (Upflow Multi-layer Bio-Reactor) is a multi-functional bioreactor system that acts as primary settling, sludge thickening and anaerobic/anoxic reactors through upflow and plug-flow type mixing in a one bioreactor system. It has been proven to efficiently remove nutrients from wastewater with energy usage reduction of 87% compared to conventional completed-mixed type A2O system. An efficient and compact hybrid system of UMBR and activated sludge module, called 'UMBR/Oxic process' through intelligent control system and optimization of operational conditions, has been developed to remove nutrients and oxygen demand from high strength wastes.
Emerging organic pollutants such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, pharmaceuticals and personal care products are of major concern worldwide. One of their major sources is through effluent discharged from sewage treatment plants, due to the inefficiency of current sewage treatment technology such as activated sludge process. Our research focuses on developing advanced technologies such as photocatalysis, chemical oxidation and adsorption.
Hydro-informatics and enviro-informatics
The aim is to develop novel intelligent computing tool based on dynamic nonlinear state-space with a neural network, dynamic neuro-fuzzy local modelling system, and evolutionary computational intelligence (grammar-based genetic programming) combining with conceptual models for a wide variety of real-time water flow modelling, water quality modelling, flood warning system modelling design with real-time satellite weather data, dynamic discharge control for hydropower stations, rainfall recharge estimation, decision-support system for water management, data mining, modelling and optimisation for wastewater treatment processes.
Air Quality Modelling
To improve the quality of life of the urban population, we have the capability of implementing a state of the art, 3D and time-dependent finite-element software (FLUIDITY). This allows us to model the complex turbulent air flow structures/eddies within street canyons and larger neighbourhood, and subsequently simulate the dispersal of air pollutants due to traffic emissions, industrial as well as accidental releases at high resolution. The Large Eddy Simulation (LES) method within FLUIDITY solves the filtered Navier-Stokes fluid flow equations numerically, whilst for the unresolved scales an empirical eddy-viscosity model is used for predicting the sub-grid scale stresses. The unstructured mesh continually adapts according to the values of the physical parameters in the computational domain; this allows higher resolution in areas of interest whilst a coarser mesh is defined elsewhere, thus improving computational efficiency.
Environmental analysis
Environmental analysis is an essential tool for pollution monitoring and pollution control technologies. At LSBU we have been developing and refining sample preparation and analysis methods for a range of organic pollutants in the aquatic environment. The pollutants that we have analysed include traditional ones such as PAHs, PCBs, pesticides and emerging ones such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Environmental chemistry
Environmental chemistry is concerned with the sources, transport and transformation of chemicals in the environment. Our research involves using various tools such as the analysis of parent compounds and their degradation products, and stable isotopes for apportioning pollution sources and persistence. The development of cross-flow ultrafiltration has facilitated the determination of phase association of pollutants between soluble, colloidal and particulate phases. This has a direct impact on the bioavailability and potential biomagnifications of pollutants. Passive sampling devices have been used for providing time-weighted average concentrations of pollutants, compared to spot sampling.


A range of facilities are available at LSBU. For environmental analysis, we have GC-MS, LC-MS and ICP-MS mass spectromators (link to case study on this) and sample preparation facilities such as solid-phase extraction, solid-phase microextraction and microwave digestion. On environmental chemistry, there are two sets of cross-flow ultrafiltration devices, and passive sampling devices of different sizes. Gas sensors for NOx, CO and CO2 are available for air quality monitoring. We also have a dedicated lab for experiments involving chlorine.

Research degree opportunities

Because of the cross-departmental interests of the research it is closely linked to both LSBU's School of Applied Sciences and School of Engineering. We offer exciting opportunities for taught postgraduate degrees for awards of MPhil/PhD (by research) or MSc. Study part-time or full-time in a range of areas and be taught by academic staff who have direct expertise.

The wide range of research activities in the Faculty of Engineering, Science and the Built Environment, together with the mix of academic staff, post-doctoral research fellows and visiting professors, allows us to offer a stimulating and diverse postgraduate environment. Read more about Research Degrees at LSBU


Dr T Hong
Tel: 020 7815 7602

Dr Elsa Aristodemou
Tel: 020 7815 7126