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Water Quality Monitoring Technology & Robotics

Description of the Technology to be Researched and Developed as Prototype: AquaeyeTM is an autonomous floating aquatic sensor platform with adaptable payload to sense a range of parameters (environmental conditions, chemical and biological hazards) for a variety of applications such as alerting oil spills and toxic algal blooms in bathing waters, pollution and fuel spills in inland waterways, marinas, harbours, shipping lanes and coastal waters. Deployed at the water-air interface tethered to buoys, maintenance, eventual recovery and re-purposing or re-location to address a new application are facilitated. Designed for disassembly-reassembly it is easily re-purposed. It is a small and low-cost (<£1000) device compared with current state of the art devices, which are not designed for reuse/recycling and not autonomous (need to be secured in the monitoring medium). The AquaeyeTM has customisable data collection and transmission capability with cloud storage and data management, offering low-cost unmanned remote sensing capability with alerts to trigger emergency response e.g. chemical spills, toxic blooms or drinking water contamination for prompt mitigation. Current sensing ability includes in situ temperature, pH, oxidation-reduction potential & dissolved Oxygen.

This research will be focused on increasing payload of the device with the PhD student further developing the device as follows:

  • Apply BS8887 & ISO14006 to improve the design of the platform to accommodate more sensors, that is waterproof, buoyant, self-righting and recyclable
  • Research additional power demand and innovate current PV-derived energy conversion & storage
  • Develop PID sensors for oil spills, PAHs and colorimetric sensor for nitrates, phosphates, antibiotics, algal toxins
  • Adapt existing circuits, data collection and transmission to accommodate the additional sensing capability.

Eligibility Critera: Must have an Undergraduate degree in an Engineering Discipline ideall with Mechanical and/or Electrical - Electronic Engineering knowledge. 

Please tell us about previous lab and field experience and include a list of your modules taken and respective marks in your CV (especially for your past project/dissertation modules). Training will be provided but you are expected to have some relevant skills in programming Arduino and Raspberry Pie, CAD use and basic electronic circuits.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Xinli Du - Dr Xinli Du joined Brunel Institute for Bioengineering as a Research Lecturer in August 2010. Xinli’s PhD degree was awarded by Loughborough University (U.K.) Control Systems Research Group in 2008. He then joined Aston University working as a Research Associate. His research has focused on smart surgical tools and multiple sensing technology. Some successful projects include a surgical robotic micro-drill and a smart tackle sensing surface.

Gera Troisi - Dr Gera M. Troisi is a lecturer in the School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University London since 2001, delivering undergraduate and postgraduate modules on Medical Device Risk Management, Environmental Risk Assessment and Life Cycle Analysis on Biomedical, Sustainable and General Engineering courses and has supervised several postgraduate students to successful completion of PhD-doctoral degrees, MPhil and MRes. She is a Chartered Toxicologist-Ecotoxicologist (UK & Europe) and is a member of the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which advises on the classification, labelling and restriction of chemicals within the European Union under the REACH and CLP regulations. Her principal research interests are environmental toxicology of humans and wildlife (ecotoxicology, endocrine disruption, biomonitoring, biosensors, environmental analysis); Risk Assessment and Aquaculture. She has over 30 research publications covering these disciplines. She has coordinated a number of research and consultancy projects related to environmental toxicology funded by both non-governmental (RSPCA, WWF, Care for the Wild, Greenpeace) and governmental agencies (DEFRA) and industry (Safeway, Slimming Systems Ltd and Lufthansa-Hawker Pacific Aerospace). Before beginning her career in academia, Dr Troisi worked as a Senior Scientific Officer in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Institute for Environment & Health. She holds a doctorate degree in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Essex and is a member of the British and European Toxicology Societies. Dr Troisi offers the following consultancy services: Medical Device Risk Management; Environmental Risk Assessment; Health Risk Assessment; Ecological Risk Assessment; Life Cycle Analysis; Environmental Impact Assessment; Health and Ecological Impacts; Laboratory analysis of environmental pollutants (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metabolites (Methyl sulphones), pesticides, heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); emergent pollutants (brominated flame retardants)) drugs and biologically-active compounds (steroid hormones).