Research Fellow in Membrane Desalination - Civil Engineering

University of Birmingham

More jobs at University of Birmingham



Position type:

Full time


£30,942 - £36,914

14 Apr 2020
24 May 2020

Full details:

Reference number: BIR-200001R7

Position Details

Civil Engineering

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £30,942 to £40,322. With potential progression once in post to £42,792 a year.

Grade 7

Full time

Fixed term for 42 months

Closing Date: 24th May 2020


Job Purpose

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded The University of Birmingham a grant to research the mechanisms of transport and fouling in membrane desalination systems based on batch reverse osmosis (RO). The overall aim of the project is to gain a thorough understanding of key phenomena of the batch RO process which operates under transient conditions. The research will underpin the development of high-recovery desalination systems typically used for treatment of groundwater. Hosted by the School of Engineering Science, the Research Fellow will bring experimental and modelling skills to the project, using tehniques such as Particle Image Velocimetry and Computational Fluid Dynamics, to understand and mitigate fouling by species such as silica and calcium sulphate, and to advance the efficiency of groundwater desalination beyond the current state of the art.


Role Summary

  • Plan and conduct research in the area of membrane desalination
  • Develop predictive models for fluid flow at micro- and device scale
  • Design and carry out experiments in flow visualisation for model verification
  • Design and carry out experiments on the performance of RO desalination configurations
  • Contribute to broader areas of project management, writing of research bids, and supervision of students in related research activities


Main Duties and Responsibilities

Responsibilities will include:

  • Develop mathematical and computational models of the membrane desalination system, selecting and applying software tools as appropriate, to understand and predict performance at the micro scale of the membrane channel and at the macro scale of the whole system.
  • Assist in the specification and set up of particle image velocimetry (PIV) equipment; use the equipment to understand the movement of fouling species – interpreting the results with the help of the models developed.
  • Develop novel batch RO systems at lab scale – through preparation of engineering specifications and designs, installation and commissioning – liaising with external suppliers and university professional services as appropriate.
  • Test the systems, interpret the results and compare to the model predictions, recommending and implementing improvements accordingly.
  • Commission membrane autopsies and contribute to the interpretation of their results.
  • Liaise with industrial partners collaborating in the project.
  • Undertake management and administration duties arising from the research.
  • Contribute to writing bids for further research funding.
  • Assist in supervision of students on related research work, and help provide guidance to PhD students where appropriate.
  • Present research outputs, including drafting academic publications or parts thereof, preparing conference presentations and posters.
  • Contribute to enterprise, business development and/or public engagement activities of the benefit to the School and University.
  • Travel from time to time as required by the research programme.


Person Specification


  • Good first degree in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, or related discipline.
  • Doctorate in relevant research area or equivalent industrial experience.
  • Ability in analysis and modelling of process technologies and/or systems.
  • Ability to design, modify and operate experimental equipment and to make and interpret observations reliably.
  • Ability to communicate complex information clearly.
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively.
  • Understanding of, and ability to contribute to, broader management/administration processes.
  • Contribute to the planning and organisation of the research project.
  • Co-ordinate own work with others to work effectively towards overall project objectives and meet agreed deadlines.
  • Ability to identify and learn new techniques, through self-study, training and/or continuing professional development.


  • Experience of research in membrane desalination
  • Experience with laser flow diagnostic techniques (e.g. particle image and/or particle tracking velocimetry)
  • Experience with computational fluid dynamics tools (e.g. OpenFOAM) for simulating multiphase flows and heat/mass transport phenomena.


For informal inquiries please contact Philip Davies,


Valuing excellence, sustaining investment

We value diversity at The University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community

Remember to mention Global Academy Jobs when you apply