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News releases 2015

Five young researchers from across Europe have been given the opportunity to undertake collaborative research within the Water industry to help address the challenges created by tighter environmental standards, the need to reduce carbon emissions and the opportunity to derive value from waste.

The students who will be working on their PhDs for the next three years will use research initiatives that combine both academic and real world expertise – helping to create and share knowledge across Europe.  Supporting expertise draws together European research institutes (Catalan Institute for Water Research and University of Girona) with companies Atkins and Aquafin. 

The researchers, who have been recruited by TreatRec (a European Industrial Doctorate programme) will together provide 15 years’ worth of research on a range of wastewater treatment and resource recovery projects.  The programme, which was officially launched at the end of September this year, involves hosting the researchers within Atkins and Aquafin - meaning that the researchers will be working in an environment that draws together both academia and industry excellence.

Pau Juan Garcia, one of the researchers, is being hosted by Atkins in its state-of-the-art offices in Bristol. Pau’s PhD research will look at the resilience of wastewater treatment to current and future stress conditions using advanced analytical and GIS strategic modelling techniques.

He said: “My aim for the PhD research is to improve resilience in the water treatment planning and process operation, delivering sustainability through improved risk management. By being hosted in Atkins, I am working with leading industry experts who are best placed to guide the direction of the research, ensuring that it will benefit the wider water industry. It’s an exciting position to be in – by being closely linked to those working in the industry, I am confident that my research will have a lasting impact.”

Arthur Thornton, project director, Atkins, said: “Working for water companies across the UK and abroad, we provide the real world context and have a track record of applied research and development - the benefits of which can be passed directly onto our clients and their customers.   We are extremely confident that this Horizon 2020 project will be considered to be exemplar in its field – linking academic and industry excellence creates a very exciting knowledge creation opportunity that Atkins is proud to be at the heart of.”

Through this collaboration, and with the very best researchers, the project team is confident that it will be able to produce high quality research addressing the challenges of the Water Framework Directive whilst balancing energy and product recovery challenges.  The PhDs are also aligned with UK research programmes managed by Atkins - benefitting the UK industry as a whole. 

The other projects hosted by Aquafin and the Catalan Institute for Water Research include:

•    Tackling emerging compounds in wastewater treatment plants
•    Transformation of microcontaminants in wastewater treatment
•    Optimal configuration of nitrogen and phosphorous recovery schemes within wastewater treatment plants
•    Assessment of environmental and socio-economic implications of urban wastewater systems upgrading

Atkins plays a key role in research and development in the water industry. They are currently leading on significant national programmes of research, funded by the water industry through UKWIR, which represents over £120 million of collaborative research within the water industry and environmental regulators.


For more information:

Elaine Garner
Marketing manager, Water
Tel: +44 29290 358069

Notes to editors:

Atkins ( is one of the world's most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing some 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. We build long term trusted partnerships to create a world where lives are enriched through the implementation of our ideas. You can view Atkins’ recent projects on our website.

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