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Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering

Research in the Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering is driven by health, environment and energy agendas and focuses on the interaction between bio-chemical processes and the civil infrastructure in our environment.

Links between health and the built environment are well established and are at the heart of public health engineering. Nevertheless there are still significant challenges with the design and performance of the built environment that continue to impact on health both in the developed world and in developing countries. This includes provision of safe water and sanitation, processes for safe treatment and disposal of waste, urban and indoor air quality, hazards posed by contaminated land and groundwater and disease transmission in the built environment.

Our research has a strong emphasis on the interrelationships between energy, sustainability and environmental impact. This includes optimising process waste and waste water treatment efficiency and providing new strategies for controlling hazards, and methods to recover resources from processes to generate energy, extract valuable materials and produce nutrients for fertilisers.

The Institute comprises of engineers and scientists from a wide range of disciplines who use a combination of laboratory, numerical modelling and fieldwork based approaches to explore the fundamental science and develop novel engineering applications.

Our research focuses on three key areas:

  • Health: water supply, sanitation, waste and waste water treatment, airborne infection, disinfection and control technologies
  • Resource recovery: solid waste management, organic waste treatment including microalgae and anaerobic digestion, fertilisers from waste, bioenergy, composting
  • Environmental risk: water footprint, bio-chemical process modelling, flood risk modelling, sustainable urban drainage, bioremediation of contaminated land.

We have a dedicated suite of laboratories providing capability for sample preparation, chemical and biological analysis, custom bench-scale test rigs and portable equipment for field sampling. These facilities include a molecular laboratory equipped for extracting microbial DNA from environmental samples, and sample preparation for conventional and next-generation sequencing, analytical equipment including GC and IC, a specialised chamber for room-scale bioaerosol experiments, and a dedicated solid waste characterisation laboratory capable of representative sub-sampling with sorting and size reduction equipment.

Numerical modelling is a key strength of the institute, with research using both established methods and new techniques for simulating a range of health and environmental challenges. This ranges from the coupling of chemical and biological models with flow simulation tools to the development of in-house codes for river modelling, sediment transport and real-time CFD.

We collaborate with centres and institutes across Leeds including water@leeds, one of the largest water-facing research and training centres in the world. We work with numerous academic, industry, government and NGO partners at national and international levels across all our research areas. The institute has particularly strong international connections with collaborations in South America, USA, Africa, EU and Asia.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail, contact the Institute Director: Professor Doug Stewart or the Deputy Director: Professor Barbara Evans.

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students including a number of studentships. Informal enquiries can be made to the Institute Director.

View all members of the Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering.