PhD scholarship for a government funded project on the design of a “Waste-to-Profit System”

Expressions of Interest are invited highly motivated PhD candidate to work as part of a team on a government funded project entitled “Microalgae cultivation for treatment of waste streams in the meat processing industry”.


Murdoch University is part of a major new research project to convert animal and municipal Wastes to Profits. The Wastes to Profits project is supported by Meat and Livestock Australia and partners through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

The project has a total value of ~$14 million over 4 years and brings together key stakeholders from across Australia’s animal industries and technology, research and development providers to deliver advanced technologies to convert wastes from intensive animal production, food processing, and municipal water treatment into fuels, feeds, chemicals, and energy products.

One of the activities in the Wastes to Profits project includes microalgae cultivation for treatment of wastewater in the animal and municipal industries. This project is led by Prof. Parisa A. Bahri and Dr. Navid Moheimani from Murdoch University.

The Australian red meat processing industry produces large volumes of wastewater that are rich in nutrients and organic matter. The majority of Australian abattoirs have wastewater treatment plants on-site, most of which includes anaerobic digestion (AD) as the main biological treatment aiming at reducing the organic content. High concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous are found in the AD effluents and nutrient removal treatments are not as widely implemented as anaerobic treatments. As a consequence, large volumes of high nutrient content wastewater are dumped in evaporation ponds. Environmental risks of such management practice are associated with greenhouse gas emissions by ammonia volatilization, eutrophication of soils and surface waters due to nutrient imbalance, and groundwater nitrogen contamination. Large land footprint and loss of the environmental and economic value of the wastewater effluent in the form of water and nutrients recovery are major drawbacks of the current management practices. Due to the environmental and economic burden caused by the current wastewater treatment practice, a cost effective and efficient nutrient removal/recovery system is perceived a priority by the red meat processing industry.

The algae biomass can be used to treat the AD effluent to remove the environmental impacts associated with the contamination of soils, water and groundwater, and the greenhouse gas emissions as well as to generate the profit for the industry by the production of many valuable products. Waste-to-profit recovery systems that allow the recycle of treated wastewater as well as the production of value added products are considered as a major progress within the industry towards environmental sustainability, economic benefit and process optimization.

Our research team is already working on bio-prospecting of microalgae for treatment of AD effluent of abattoir. Using the data generated by the other team members, the PhD candidate will aim to:

  1. develop the mathematical model/process design representing the microalgae cultivation on AD effluent and the downstream process of conversion of algae to valuable products,
  2. conduct the techno-economic assessment of the proposed system, and
  3. conduct the life cycle assessment of the proposed system.

Research Environment: Murdoch University is a research-led internationally recognised University, and the researchers here address some of the major challenges of the 21st Century. Murdoch University’s distinctive research agenda informs leaders, nurtures innovative thinkers and inspires problem-solvers who are capable of tackling the most pressing regional and global challenges.

Our world-leading research in sustainable development and renewable energy is applied to some of the most pressing real world challenges of our time, by skilled researchers who perform and deliver in the most highly demanding work environments.

Funding bodyMurdoch University
Study levelPhD
ValueA Full Time Scholarship will carry a stipend of $27,596 per year with annual increments.
Duration3 years with the potential to apply for 6 months extension.
The position will be filled as soon as possible.
RequirementsSelection criteria:
  1. The successful candidate will have completed a Masters by research degree or a high level (H1) Honours degree (or equivalent) in the last 5 years in Chemical Engineering/ Process Engineering.
  2. Previous experience with process modelling and modelling software such as Aspen/SuperPro, and techno economics.
  3. Demonstrated ability to work under broad direction, exercise initiative in undertaking responsibilities and work effectively as a team member.
  4. Well-developed interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary and collegial team.
  5. Demonstrated high levels of written and oral communication skills in English.
Apply by26 April, 2019 but the position will be filled as soon as possible.
To applyTo apply, interested candidates are invited to send their Curriculum Vitae, a 1-2 page outline of:
  1. their research skills, and a summary of their goals for a PhD
  2. names and contact information of three referees
Please submit all your application documents to Professor Parisa A. Bahri
ContactFor more information about this scholarship, please email Professor Parisa A. Bahri