PhD title: Can integrated constructed wetlands provide a sustainable alternative to conventional wastewater treatment?
This project investigates the potential of integrated constructed wetlands to provide an environmentally and economically sustainable alternative to conventional wastewater treatment technologies for the reduction of nutrients, plasticizers and microplastic fibres in sewage effluent.
Sewage effluent is a major global driver of freshwater pollution, but conventional treatment technologies to mitigate sewage pollution are energy intensive, expensive and frequently provide sub-optimal pollutant removal performance. In this regard, integrated constructed wetlands have emerged as a potential alternative, cost-effective, natural treatment for sewage effluent. However, major questions remain about their seasonal effectiveness and long-term ability to capture, retain and cycle nutrients with sufficient efficiency to reliably replace conventional treatment technologies. Furthermore, there is growing environmental concern regarding the inability of conventional treatment process to remove endocrine disrupting plasticizers and laundry microplastic fibres, and research is required to assess whether ICWs have increased potential to mitigate these plastic pollutants.
Cooper, R.J., Warren, R.J., Clarke, S.J. and Hiscock, K.M. (2022). Evaluating the impacts of contrasting sewage treatment methods on nutrient dynamics across the River Wensum catchment, UK. Science of The Total Environment, 804. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150146