Advanced Water Management Centre

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PhD Scholarship in modelling airflow and heat transfer in a sewer network

Project Background

Sewer systems are valuable infrastructures that have been established by continuous public investment for more than a century. However, concrete corrosion is a costly deteriorating process affecting sewer systems worldwide. The rehabilitation and replacement of damaged sewers involves extremely high costs. Various technologies have been developed to control or mitigate the Microbially Induced Concrete Corrosion (MICC) in sewers, including pipe coating and lining, in-sewer chemical dosing and ventilation. While pipe coating/lining and in-sewer chemical dosing have attracted substantial research over recent decades, the effects of ventilation on corrosion control by decreasing H2S levels and humidity has not been well established.

It is well understood that the sewer ventilation influences humidity and H2S levels in sewer air, thus influencing sewer corrosion rate. However, the quantitative dependency of corrosion on sewer humidity has not been well established. The currently available corrosion models either ignore the effect of humidity or use the average humidity as an input to overly simplified, empirically derived, static equations. In reality, the sewer-air humidity is highly dynamic, varying with the atmospheric humidity, the air flow rate, and the sewage- and sewer-air temperatures. There are currently no models available to accurately predict the variation of the factors affecting sewer corrosion.

Led by Prof. Zhiguo Yuan AM, an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, the sewer research team at the AWMC is an international leader in sewer corrosion control, with 20 years research experience in this field. The team has to date undertaken over $10m research in this field, in collaboration with numerous water utilities in Australia and overseas. The team has published over 150 papers on sewer corrosion in prestigious journals including Science, Water Research and Environmental Science and Technology.

Advanced Water Management Centre

The Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC) is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in innovative water technology and management. We deliver six interlinked programs namely, next generation urban water technologies, integrated urban water management, sewer corrosion and odour management, nexus of urban water, health and environment, resource efficient agri-industry and environmental biotechnology.

The centre has strong collaborative linkages with industry and an outstanding academic publication record, publishing on average more than 100 papers a year in high quality journals including the most prestigious multidisciplinary journals including Nature and Science, and top discipline journals such as Water Research and Environmental Science and Technologies.

For more Information about the Centre, please visit:

An opportunity exists for an outstanding PhD candidate to carry out a model-based investigation of the dynamics in sewer conditions in terms of airflow, temperature, and humidity, which are key to the understanding of the concrete corrosion process and the prediction of the corrosion rate. The student will develop dynamic models capable of predicting the spatial and temporal variations of sewer air humidity and temperature, and sewer wall temperature and moisture. The models will be calibrated and validated based on the data collected from a number of sewer sites. The student is expected to take an important role in data collection. The student will have ample opportunities to work with water utilities including Melbourne Water Corporation, Urban Utilities, Western Australia Water Corporation and DC Water (USA). The project will help the PhD candidate to launch a successful career in either academia or industry.

Selection criteria

The successful applicant will require to have a background of a Master or Honour Degree, in environmental, civil or chemical engineering, physics or mathematics preferably with

  • knowledge of sewer hydraulics and use of modelling packages
  • experience in conducting laboratory and field experiments
  • experience in airflow and heat transfer modelling


The 2020 Research Training Program (RTP) living allowance stipend rate is AUD$28,092 per annum (indexed annually), which is tax-free for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply).

For further information, please contact Yarong Song.

To apply for this role, please visit