Completed PhD Theses


Lirong Cheng - Dual porosity reactive transport modelling.

Dual porosity reactive transport modelling has received increasing attention in tackling groundwater problems. A general dual porosity multi-component reactive transport code MIN3PDUAL has been developed and verified against the established codes. This code is capable of simulating sophisticated physical and chemical processes in dual porosity media for 1-D, 2-D and 3-D and was used as a modelling tool in assessing the fate and transport of MTBE in a Chalk aquifer. The field investigation and modelling results showed that dual porosity transport plays an important role in MTBE attenuation in the Chalk aquifer. Both the MTBE concentrations measured in the field and the plume development of MTBE are predominantly controlled by the dual porosity effects rather than degradation.

Brenda Chisala - Assessing microbiological risks to urban groundwater from leaking sewers.

Urban groundwater in the UK is perceived to be at high risk of pollution and so is under used. However, in recent years it has been recognised as a potentially valuable resource due to problems associated with its under use. To become more sustainable in urban groundwater use we need to have risk tools to make evidence-based judgements on pollution risks. One such tool is the recently developed Borehole Optimisation System (BOS), which predicts the risk of pollution to groundwater in urban areas. Therefore, BOS was initially used to assess MTBE risks from contaminated land, as a way of developing familiarity with the way BOS was coded and as a first step in the methodology development. The BOS framework was then extended and used to assess microbiological risks from leaking sewers to urban groundwater.

Sponsors: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and Environment Agency


Nadeem Shah - Attenuation of organic contaminants under sulphate-reducing conditions in groundwater: biodegradation of high phenol concentrations and direct microbial oxidation of vinyl chloride.

Biodegradation processes play an important role in the Natural Attenuation (NA) of contaminants in groundwater. This study aimed to investigate the biodegradation potential of 2 groundwater contaminants, phenol and vinyl chloride, under sulphate-reducing conditions.

Results demonstrate that indigenous microbial populations have the capability to degrade higher concentrations of phenol than previously documented, and significant phenol removal could be achieved at contaminated sites if environmental conditions were suitable.

VC oxidation was not conclusively documented in any of the microcosm experiments. However, a method was successfully developed to study biodegradation of volatile compounds, including VC, utilising a Solid Phase Microextraction device (SPME) in conjunction with GCMS. An internal standard method appropriate for long-term microcosm experiments was also developed and forms a sound basis for future studies of VC degradation under various electron-accepting conditions.

Zuansi Cai - Zero-valent iron fracture reactive barriers for remediating chlorinated solvent contaminants in fractured aquifers.

A novel remediation strategy, the zero-valent iron fracture reactive barrier, is proposed to clean up chlorinated solvent pollution of groundwater in a fractured aquifer. To evaluate the feasibility of Fe0 FRB as a remediation strategy, a numerical model was developed to assess the treatment performance of a Fe0 FRB in a hypothetical chalk aquifer. The performance assessment suggests that Fe0 FRB could be use to treat groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents, and also provides some preliminary conclusions on the optimal design of a Fe0 FRB. A preliminary analysis of the longevity of a Fe0 FRB suggests that its lifetime is sufficiently long for practical applications.


Ian Andrew Watson - Modelling of natural attenuation processes in groundwater using adaptive and parallel
numerical methods.
Funding: The British Council


Stephanie Croxford - Evaluating the evolution of minewater contamination during the weathering of a UK
Carboniferous Middle Coal Measure sequence.
Funding: Hosseim Farmy Research Scholarship


Wei Huang - The role of transverse mixing of electron acceptors and carbon substrates in natural
Funding: Environmental Agency and ORS (Overseas Research Scholarship)

Sam Trowsdale - The depth of penetration of contamination in urban groundwater.
Funding: NERC

Fernando Wakida - Potential nitrate leaching from housebuilding to groundwater.
Funding: National Council of Technology and Science, Mexico

Gary Wealthall - Predicting DNAPL source zones in fractured rock.
Funding: EPSRC Waste and Pollution Programme


Sean Burke - Development and application of a kinetic reactor model for removal of dissolved
Fe2+ from mine water discharges by surface catalysed oxidation.


Adrian Steele - DNAPL migration in variable aperture fractures.

Diego Corcho - Biodegradation of MTBE and other ether oxygenates by a cyclohexane utilising culture.
Sponsored by: Shell International Oil Products (UK)

Beiyan Zhang - Modelling groundwater flow to adit systems in UK Chalk aquifers.
Sponsored by: Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water Services, Thames Water Utilities Ltd, General Utilities, Anglian Water Services

Pipop Prabnarong - Evaluation of risks in urban groundwater: a case study in Nottingham.
Sponsored by: Thai Government

Pre 2000

R.M. Davison, 1998 - Natural attenuation and risk assessment of groundwater contaminated with
ammonium and phenolics.
(Ph.D., Bradford University)

A. Berg, 1997 - The response of soil weathering to climate change: laboratory and modelling studies.
(Ph.D., Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)

B. Strömberg, 1997 - Weathering kinetics of sulphidic mining waste: an asessment of geochemical
processes in the Aitik mining waste rock deposits.
(Ph.D., Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)

M. I Bright, 1997 - Attenuation of organic components of landfill leachate in geochemically design
landfill liners.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

Weiwu Zhu, 1996 - Coal tar DNAPLs in the subsurface environment and appropriate in-situ remediation
(MPhil, UMIST)

M. Malmstrom, 1996 - The weathering of biotite : implications for the geochemistry of granite aquifers.
(Ph.D., Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)

S.N. Needham, 1996 - The behaviour of atrazine and simazine within the Chalk aquifer.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

M.H. Barrett, 1995 - The transport of mixtures of organic contaminants in groundwater.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

A.C. Baker, 1994 - The measurement of hydraulic and solute transport parameters in clays.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

M.W. Burston, 1994 - Chlorinated hydrocarbon pollution of the Coventry region, UK.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

I. Jones, 1994 - The development of a re-usable multilevel groundwater sampler for existing boreholes.
(M.Sc. by research, University of Birmingham)

D.J. Williamson, 1994 - Controls on the movement of organic micropollutants in UK aquifers.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

R.J. Andrews, 1993 - The impact of sewage sludge application on nitrate leaching from arable land on the unconfined Chalk aquifer of East Anglia, England.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

D.A. Segar, 1993 - The effect of open boreholes on groundwater flow and chemistry.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

R. Greswell, 1992 - The modelling of groundwater rise in the Birmingham area.
(MSc by research, University of Birmingham).

R.P. Ashley, 1991 - Mechanisms controlling oil behaviour in the unsaturated Chalk.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

N.H. Neill, 1990 - Computer modelling studies of the prediction of groundwater inflows to longwall coal
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)

M.O. Rivett, 1988 - Organic contamination of the Birmingham aquifer.
(Ph.D., University of Birmingham)