UniSA-CSIRO PhD project opportunity

December 7th, 2021

Constructed floating wetlands for remediation of PFAS contaminated surface water

If you’re interested in advanced your career in environmental management and keen to address contemporary pollution problems, the University of South Australia—Australia’s University of Enterprise—is offering a PhD project within the Future Industries Institute, in partnership with CSIRO Land and Water.

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of synthetic chemicals with broad commercial applications worldwide, including manufacturing and fire-fighting foams. Upon release into the environment, however, PFAS are extremely persistent and can accumulate in organisms, causing adverse health effects in humans and animals, including immune system impairment. Food can be contaminated through contact with the soil and water used to grow the food, and wildlife that drink from contaminated water can also be harmed.

A largely unexplored strategy for the removal of PFAS from water bodies is the use of phytoremediation, alone or coupled with sorption, which can be achieved in constructed floating wetlands (CFWs). The CFW system is a green technology that removes pollutants from waters by employing green plants. CFWs promote the growth of native plant species in buoyant structures, where pollutants are assimilated into plant biomass.

CFWs can be readily installed into existing water environments, such as lakes and retention basins for the treatment of urban surface runoff. Other nature-based water treatment systems are not so easily retrofitted into existing areas.

This project aims to develop a fundamental understanding of the feasibility of using Australian native plant species for the sequestration of PFAS from water bodies (including uptake rates and mechanisms). The innovative approach will use sorptive material as planting media in CFWs to facilitate ongoing PFAS removal from water bodies through passive treatment processes as well as strategies to responsibly manage PFAS contaminated plant and sorptive material, including regeneration.

You will be a part of a multidisciplinary research team that spans the Scarce Resource and Circular Economy (ScaRCE)the Future Industries Institute, and the contaminants and biotechnologies research group based in CSIRO Land and Water, all endeavouring to find a solution for a real-world problem together.

Details and how to apply available here