I’m researching hydropower energy recovery in wastewater infrastructure and investigating the potential for using hydropower turbines to generate energy from the large flows of wastewater in wastewater collection infrastructure and treatment plants.
Wastewater management is an energy intensive sector that currently relies heavily on electricity from fossil fuels. Therefore, the economic and environmental costs of the sector are large. The aim of my research is to assess hydropower turbines, powered by the flow of wastewater, as an alternative source of energy for the wastewater sector.
What brought you to research?
I chose to study engineering because of its practical application of maths and science. Throughout the four years of my degree, we were constantly challenged with group and individual projects focused on exploring solutions to various problems. These projects opened up the idea of research as a means of problem solving to me.
I have always had a keen interest in energy and in the summer before my final undergraduate year, I worked as a research assistant with the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering group at the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), Cork. I worked for three months within the bioenergy section of the group, which is exploring the potential of various crops for transport and thermal energy uses. In addition to reviewing literature in the area, I was involved in an anaerobic digestion experiment. The feedstock was fed into the reactor at the beginning of the summer and I took daily measurements of pH, temperature etc. for the three months.
I really enjoyed being involved in the research group and found the process of both reading and experimentation very interesting. I also gained insight into the life of a PhD researcher and realised that it appealed to me. As soon as I heard about the energy recovery project, I was immediately interested, given the area of research and the multi-disciplinary aspect to the project.