Electricity Enhancement in Constructed Wetlands (CWs)

Electricity Enhancement in Constructed Wetlands (CWs) Integrated with Microbial Fuel Cell for Coastal Areas

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Australia has the sixth-longest coastline of any nation, with more than 85% of the population living within 50 km of the sea. Urbanisation, resource-extraction activities, and the need for greater agricultural outputs have already put significant pressure on our water supply, and impacts associated with climate change are beginning to emerge. As highlighted in a 2015 senate enquiry, Australia's urban area produces 3000 gigalitres of stormwater runoff annually. Contamination of coastal areas, water storages and oceans by polluted agriculture and stormwater runoff is a serious concern in Australia and worldwide. Declining coastal water quality, influenced by agricultural runoff, is recognised as one of the most significant threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

Constructed wetlands (CWs) are recognised as resilient, economical, and extensive decentralised eco-friendly technologies capable of meeting water treatment challenges. Until now electricity generation in Constructed Wetlands (CWs) integrated with Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) for coastal areas is very low. The improvement in electricity generation or electron flow to the conductive material can be applied for real time applications such as pollutant sensing. In addition, transfer of electron to conductive material can also enhance the treatment of wastewater in CW.  It is reported by several studies with bioelectrochemical cells such as MFC, a large fraction of electron transfers to the methanogenic bacteria for the production of methane gas. This is the reason why the production rate of methane gas is high in CW-MFC systems whereas electricity generation is low. In this project, we are trying to inhibit methanogenic bacteria so that the entire or maximum electron goes directly to the conductive material. With extracting more electrons from the microbes, electricity generation of CW-MFC can be enhanced. This strategy can also be beneficial for producing greenhouse gases of low potential.

So, the objectives of this PhD research are:

  1. Enhance the electricity generation in MFCs by inhibiting the methanogenic activities
  2. Investigating the potential of MFC for real time applications such as pollution sensing

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Vikram Garaniya


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • The potential candidate for this PhD project should have previous working experience in measurement and analysis of different contaminants in environmental laboratory

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Having previous experience in application of different machine learning techniques is an extra advantage in selecting the PhD candidate

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Vikram Garaniya, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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