Connecting the UK Industrial Doctorate Centre for the Water Sector (STREAM) with the US Urban Water Engineering Research Center (ReNUWIt)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Civil Engineering and Geosciences


The UK and the US research councils have made major investments in the training of their future water engineering cadres through (respectively) a £6.4 million Industrial Doctorate Centre for the UK Water Sector (STREAM) and a $18.5 million Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt). This network proposal seeks additional travel and subsistence resources to exploit the potential synergy between these two major research and training activities by enabling PhD students, early career researchers and academic staff from each centre of excellence to interact and exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and research results. The transatlantic network will engage publically and industrially supported water research activities at the universities of Newcastle, Cranfield, Sheffield, Exeter, Imperial College London, Stanford, New Mexico State, California at Berkeley, and the Colorado School of Mines.

The network will enable delegations of ReNUWIt PhD students and postdocs lead by a ReNUWIt academic to participate in the Challenge Weeks 2013/2014/2015 organized each year at another STREAM university. Challenge Weeks bring together the diverse cohort of research engineers, academics and industrial partners working under the STREAM umbrella and includes team building exercises, advanced transferable skills training, guest lectures from leading industrialists and scientists, and design and problem solving challenges. Participation of ReNUWIt delegates will enrich these events and provide opportunity for formal and informal engagement between UK and US peers. The network will also enable participation of STREAM research engineers in the workshops and strategic dialogues organized by RENUWIt and/or brief research visits in ReNUWIt laboratories to learn about the ongoing work and state-of-the-art methods used in US laboratories. The goals of the RENUWIt workshops and dialogues are to identify the most critical questions in strategically important water infrastructure areas to be addressed by university research. In addition to supporting the transatlantic mobility of young researchers, the network will also enable participation of STREAM and ReNUWIt academics in each others workshops and training activities, which include taught postgraduate modules, student-led research classes/seminars, and video conference accessible series of leadership seminars occurring throughout the academic year and addressing topics such as environmental leadership, scientific ethics, communication, problem solving, and ethical conduct of research. Last but not least, the network will integrate the STREAM and ReNUWIt websites by providing information dedicated to the organization, internal reporting and public dissemination of network activities funded under this proposal. This information will contain, in addition to a description of both research initiatives with links to their main websites, all the necessary details about the travel bursaries, the application process and deadlines, a timetable of relevant STREAM and ReNUWIt events. The website will also include news items written about the exchange activities by the beneficiaries of the travel bursaries. Contributions of STREAM academics to the webinar series of the ReNUWIt center, and viewing of ReNUWIt webinars by STREAM affiliated members, will build an additional virtual bridge between the two water research centres of excellence.

The additional travel and subsistence resources requested with this proposal will enable STREAM and ReNUWIt to come together as a transatlantic think tank for the water sector, to jointly nurture future engineering talent, and to add value to each other's planned activities without duplicating existing efforts.

Planned Impact

The imperatives of water security, sustainability and resilience have prompted both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US to set up multi-institutional, industry supported centres to support research and post-graduate training for the brightest young talent in the UK and US. These water research centres of excellence will develop a new cadre of engineers to meet the demands of the water industry in the 21st Century. It will be up to these future engineers to deliver the envisioned, radically new technologies and infrastructures which currently exist only on the drawing board or may not yet have been dreamt of. Examples are more sustainable urban drainage systems, more resilient flood defences, more intelligent water distribution networks, low-energy water treatment methods, rainwater harvesting and greywater re-use technologies, or the recovery of energy and resources (nutrients, metals) from wastewater. It is important for these future leaders to think big, look beyond the fence, and embed their locally significant work in a global context. Our proposal will facilitate substantive engagement between the EngD students trained by STREAM and their US peers trained by ReNUWIt by providing mobility funding and unique opportunities for building close transatlantic relationships which may last for a life time. Through interaction with equally ambitious young talent trained by the very best US institutions the new UK cadre of engineering leaders will recognize the global opportunities for the application of their own research ideas, and they will be inspired by the ideas pursued by their US peers to do even better in their own work. The US is a major global player in the water sector, and a continuous transatlantic dialogue between the STREAM and ReNUWIt centres of excellence will rapidly disseminate the progress made in either country. The transatlantic exchange of ideas, inspiration, research results (scientific break-through as well as disappointments), skills and knowledge will act as an incubator and accelerator for innovation. STREAM has many associated industrial partners, including all major UK water companies, and these will directly benefit from the transatlantic exchange of ideas and knowledge through their participation in the STREAM Challenge Weeks, their engagement with STREAM students, and by taking advantage of the opportunities to book personal appointments with visiting ReNUWIt academics.


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Title Webinar on Sustainable Water Use in the Built Environment 
Description Online lecture summarizing Newcastle University research on sustainable water use in the built environment and various methods to reduce the institutional water demand. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Currently has 294 views 
Description The first EngD student research visit at Stanford University showed that water in therapeutic swimming pools contains high levels of disinfection by-products, while outdoor swimming pools contained much lower levels of these potentially harmful chemicals. An EngD student at New Mexico State University utilized a new technique, fluorescence excitation and emission microscopy (FEEM), to investigate leaks in microbial fuel cells which produce electricity from wastewater, thus facilitating the analysis of failures. The detection of another type of leak, water leakages from underground pipes was investigated by a second EngD student visiting a different department at New Mexico State University, which produced a code in order to process acoustic signals, finding that the application of certain weighting factors could improve the location of water leaks in pipes. Another EngD student visit at the University of California, Berkeley evaluated rainwater harvesting at a household scale in California using a time-series approach based on 20 years of rainfall data and demonstrated that savings in excess of 10% of total domestic demand can be provided even in this challenging climate. A PhD student from the Colorado School of Mines collaborated with Newcastle University to model the optimized retention of micropollutants in raingardens demonstrating a significant benefit of biochar as a biofilter medium amendment and very accurate predictions based on batch study data. A PhD student from the Colorado School of Mines used Newcastle University gene sequencing facilities to identify the impacts of compost and straw amendments on the microbial degradation of micropollutants and demonstrated that combined compost and biochar amendments can synergistically facilitate micropollutant removal from stormwater in raingardens.
Exploitation Route Research results indicate that ventilation in therapeutic swimming pool buildings should be improved, or chlorination levels reduced; leak detection in microbial fuel cells and in water pipes will be facilitated by two innovative methods developed through US-UK research collaboration; the benefits of domestic rainwater harvesting has been demonstrate for a region affected by severe droughts (California) and could reduce pressures on scarce water resources; design criteria for better pollutant retention in raingardens have been developed through US-UK research collaboration which can improve the protection of receiving waters in areas with sustainable urban drainage systems. These design criteria and models will be utilized in a new research project which will study the use of similar systems for the inexpensive treatment of influent and effluent water from aquaculture ponds.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

Description International collaboration on determinants of disinfection by-products formation in drinking water treatment plants helps drinking water providers improve their operations and water safety, which is benefitting public health.
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description DEUS: Digital technology to feedback data to consumers to influence their water use to change their behaviour and monitor their response
Amount £14,951 (GBP)
Organisation Newcastle University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 06/2017
Description DST-UKIERI
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID IND/CONT/G/17-18/48 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
Description EPSRC IAA Phase 2: Optimized removal of trihalomethanes precursors in Scottish Water Treatment Plants.
Amount £14,941 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 01/2017
Description GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub---------
Amount £17,762,850 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/S008179/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 05/2024
Amount £477,153 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P028527/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 04/2020
Description Newton Fund Institutional Links Grants
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 414469402 
Organisation Newton Fund 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2019
Description Rapid identification and effective communication of waterborne hazards in emergencies
Amount £19,948 (GBP)
Funding ID FoDT3\192032 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2019 
End 08/2020
Description STREAM EngD Studentship: Engineering metaldehyde removal in water treatment through a deeper understanding of biological mechanisms
Amount £56,000 (GBP)
Organisation Northumbrian Water 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2019
Description US-UK Clean Water Collaboration
Amount $50,000 (USD)
Funding ID Supplement to EEC-1028968 
Organisation National Science Foundation (NSF) 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 11/2013 
End 10/2014
Description Valorisation of agricultural wastes in the Thai rural economy for bioenergy production, nutrient recycling and water pollution control in aquaculture
Amount £93,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/P027709/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 08/2018
Title Model to predict the effectiveness of sediment remediation with activated carbon 
Description Many sediment sites are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PCBs and PAHs are persistent and toxic, and PCBs are bioaccumulative. Over the past decade, various laboratory and field trials have shown that in situ sediment treatment technologies using activated carbon (AC) sorbents will reduce ecological and health risk from PCBs and PAHs. While several lines of evidence have demonstrated the AC treatment effectiveness, there is a need for further investigation of ecosystem recovery after AC sorbent amendment, assessment of secondary effects of AC on ecosystem health, development of mechanistic mass transfer modeling frameworks, and the design and testing of rapid, yet reliable, performance monitoring tools. The overarching objective of this project was to advance sediment in situ AC treatment technologies by studying these considerations. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The software has been released to the public via the SERDP website. The use of activated carbon (AC) for sediment remediation is now being implemented at several contaminated sites across the world, and the software helps remediation engineers with the optimization of the treatment design. 
Description Valorisation of agricultural waste materials 
Organisation King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi
Country Thailand 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a Newton Fund Official Development Assistance collaboration. Newcastle University will contribute skills in biochar characterisation and its application for water treatment and nutrient recovery.
Collaborator Contribution KMUTT will contribute expertise in biochar production from Thai agricultural waste materials and knowledge of aquaculture. The collaboration seeks to invert current problematic interdependencies in the Food-Water-Energy-Environment Nexus into future synergies.
Impact This is a new, multi-disciplinary collaboration which has just started.
Start Year 2017
Description Leadership Training Water Initiative South Asia (WISA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academics and NGO professionals working on water in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal) participated in a research leadership workshop in Dubai organized by the British Council as part of its South Asia science programmes. Experiences from international collaboration projects were shared with the participants by Prof David Werner, from Newcastle University, who participated as a trainer and mentor for participants from Water Aid, Nepal, Oxfam, Bangladesh and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad Pakistan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description ReNUWIt Industrial Advisory Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Eight EngD students and one academic from the UK's STREAM: Industrial Doctorate Centre for the Water Sector participated in the Industrial Advisory Board Meeting of the to the US Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure. The academic reported on modes of industry-academia collaborations in the UK, while STREAM EngD students presented their research the ReNUWIt industrial advisors, academics and postgraduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description STREAM-ReNUWIt Transatlantic Webinar 1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact UK-US seminar on innovation in the water industry; streamed from Newcastle to 4 ReNUWit Universities; Stanford, Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines and New Mexico State. Two Newcastle University members of staff presented research on rainwater harvesting and energy recovery from wastewater, respectively.

Greater awareness of the global significance of rainwater harvesting and energy recovery from wastewater was created through the presentations and discussions. One STREAM EngD student from Sheffield University later visited the University of California at Berkeley for joint research on rainwater harvesting. There have been 2 US-UK PhD student exchanges, one in either direction, on microbial fuel cell research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Stream-ReNUWIt Transatlantic Seminar 2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A transatlantic webinar was delivered by Cris Tulloch who is an Associate Water Resources Specialist at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Her primary responsibilities include long-term water resources planning, climate change and adaptation planning, and project management of the agency-wide Emergency Drought Response project. The webinar was broadcast across 5 campuses: Stanford University, The University of California at Berkeley, the Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University and Newcastle University. The webinar was jointly organized by a US and UK PhD student and included a discussion of water resources planning under severe drought conditions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Summer School at Newcastle University gives Year 12 and First Year College students hands-on experience in water quality analysis 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Bitesize Uni (also known as BSU) provides Year 12 and First Year College students with the information and opportunities to help them make an informed decision about whether or not they want to go to University. As part of the 2017 Summer School at Newcastle University, Dr David Werner taught 17 students interested in Engineering about the global challenge of providing access to safe water and adequate sanitation to everyone living on this planet. He presented case studies from his work on this issue with partners in Brazil, India, Thailand and Tanzania. Following the short lecture, the students were able to gain some hands-on experience in water quality analysis using portable photospectrometers. They compared the occurrence of ammonium, nitrite and nitrate in surface water samples collected in different locations around Newcastle upon Tyne. Luckily, the water quality was found to be fairly good in comparison with, for example, heavily contaminated shallow groundwater below unplanned suburban settlements in low and middle income countries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017