Improving efficiency of wastewater treatment at Morfa Coke Ovens


Key Information

Academic Supervisors:  Dr C Tizaoui and Dr C Wright 

Industry Supervisor: Mr N Cadogan-Clark

Port Talbot Steel Works produces large volumes of effluent which must be treated prior to being discharged to the Bristol Channel via the ‘Long Sea Outfall’. Effluent is closely monitored for chemical emission to water to ensure compliance with environmental permits to operate. Particular compounds of interest for removal are produced via the Coke production process (carbonification) and include polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), ammonia and H2S so control of the biological effluent treatment plant is critical to remaining within permitted limits.
The biological effluent treatment plant is capable of treating 1.3 million litres of effluent and uses bacteria and other microorganisms (fondly referred to as bugs) to oxidise and breakdown the different components. Therefore, control of effluent conditions is important to optimise the treatment. A healthy system requires a stock of healthy bacteria, together with a steady supply of food(effluent), enough oxygen to allow oxidation to proceed, and ways of removing CO2 and the excess sludge mass formed by growth and reproduction.

Project Aims:
The work aims to understand biological makeup of the Biological Effluent Treatment process and to determine process drivers or solutions for improved removal efficiency, for pollutants from effluent released from the coke plant through:

1. Identify the main drivers for efficiency of the removal of pollutants, by bacteria present in the effluent treatment plant.
2. Measure ‘bug’ age and consider how to optimise setup.
3. Identify whether it is possible to remove ammonia from the effluent using the current setup.

Company Website

Tata Steel in Europe (


We welcome applications from candidates with a degree (minimum level 2:1) in an Engineering discipline (e.g. Chemical, Environmental, Civil) but will accept other physical sciences disciplines (e.g. Chemistry, Biochemistry), or equivalent relevant experience that would enable the candidate to fulfil the role.

Full eligibility can be found at


Fees at Home / EU rate, and Stipend £12,500, both for the period of one year.
For full details on funding eligibility, please refer to the Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) Website (Student Eligibility | M2A).
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is not open to ‘International’ candidates.

Closing Date: 18th June 2021

Start Date: October 2021

Applications and informal enquiries about this studentship should be directed by email to:

Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) provides industry led postgraduate research training based at Swansea University's new Bay Campus. M2A is part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.