Modelling, design and testing of integrated anaerobic digestion and hydroponics systems for closed-loop urban applications


Supervisors: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Kevin Hughes and Dr Davide Poggio.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) will play a major role in the future circular economy, in particular enabling biological closed loops with complete recycling of nutrients and improved recovery of energy. An emerging opportunity in urban environments is the integration of organic wastes treatment through AD and the re-use of digestate and nutrients in soil-less agriculture such as hydroponics.

This PhD project will look closer at these 'waste to food' systems, and at the synergies that exist between the waste degradation and food production parts of the system. Activities will include the review of past attempts (eg the biological closed-loop for life support in space missions) the modelling of energy, water and nutrients flows and transformations in the different parts of the system, a model-based design and techno-economic evaluation of the system in different scenarios.

Experimental tests may be conducted in laboratory environments, especially to evaluate the digestate-hydroponics interactions. The Energy 2050 group is currently collaborating with a successful micro-AD project in urban settings, and this will allow the student to be involved in a real case scenario.

For further information contact Professor Derek B Ingham (

Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.