PhD Scholarship: Field testing a novel waterless toilet

Cranfield University’s Nano Membrane Toilet Project has secured a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the third phase of development of a novel and sustainable household toilet that operates without any access to water, electricity or sewerage, transforming human waste into clean water and ash.

The PhD candidate will have particular responsibility for the day-to-day running of trials with potential users.   This will include trials of the “front end” (flush and solid-liquid separation components) in both the UK and a selected low income country, and well as trials of the whole system (integrating the “back end” membrane and combustor elements) in the UK.  The research will identify and quantify metrics of success for a novel toilet which will include technical performance and functionality, usability, and desirability.  The findings will be fed back to the engineering and design teams so that iterative improvements to the toilet prototypes can be made.   The ultimate aim of the research is to use data generated from human user trials to inform the successful development of sustainable toilet businesses which in turn meet the huge demand for sanitation services in the developing world. Understanding the impact of the toilet on women’s lives will be of particular importance.

The candidate should have a passion for increasing access of urban populations to good sanitation.  Practical experience of working in the fields of either sanitation / wastewater treatment or human behavioural science is required, with an open mind to learning and integrating new disciplines.  The student will be based at Cranfield University in the Cranfield Water Science Institute but will be expected to travel and study internationally.

Interview date: 10th February in the afternoon (UK time) either in person or by Skype.

  • Application deadline: 06 Feb 2017
  • Start date: 20 Mar 2017
  • Duration of award: 3 years
  • Eligibility: EU, UK, Rest of World
  • Reference numberCRAN1189

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent. We will consider candidates with backgrounds in science, engineering, psychology, human geography, social science or similar disciplines.  It is important that applicants can make a case to explain the relevance of their academic background to sanitation technology development and their willingness to work in a multi-disciplinary team and their interest in cross-disciplinary research.  The ideal candidate would have experience of working in a low income country and should expect to spend significant periods outside of the UK during this project. The candidate should be self-motivated, highly independent, and have excellent communication skills.



Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this studentship will provide a bursary of £18,000 p.a. (tax free) plus fees for three years


Doctoral Training Centre:

This higher research degree is associated with Cranfield’s Thematic Doctoral Training Centres which provides a focal point for engagement and academic discussion for all students involved in research at Cranfield. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme, provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities with Cranfield’s wider research community.


How to apply:

For further information please contact: Alison Parker

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form.

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