Synergy between microplastic and sediments within the aquatic system

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


Microplastics are a source of anthropogenic contamination that are becoming an environmental concern due to their high concentrations across the earth's surface. Whilst large plastics can be collected easily using traditional methods due to their visibility, a full understanding of the pathways and fate of micro- and nano-plastics from the land to the rivers, estuaries and the sea is unknown, due to their small scale and ability to agglomerate with riparian soil particles and other plastic types. Nevertheless, the physical mechanisms which govern their transport in aquatic systems, and deposition onto the riverbed is yet to be elucidated. The interaction between microplastics and bed sediments due to cohesive forces can lead to their aggregation forming much larger and heavier particles that are therefore easier to deposit on the river bed. These processes need to be well-understood to inform the development of numerical models and future environment policies that can address and reduce the impact of microplastics on the environment.

This project aims at providing a new understanding to the two-way interaction between microplastics and sediment particles within the aquatic system. The PhD researcher will conduct experiments in unique hydraulic flume facilities at Cardiff University using a range of flow and sediment measurement techniques, such as particle image velocimetry, acoustic doppler velocimetry, ultrasonic ranging distance sensors and high speed cameras.

The project aligns well with both the 'Engineering' and 'Living with environmental change (LWEC)' research themes, due to the remit of this studentship lying within "Environment" and "Water".


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517951/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2025
2440160 Studentship EP/T517951/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2024 James Lofty