< New PhD student positions in the Doctoral Programme on Water Resource Systems
02.02.2016 09:54 Age: 1 year

PhD Topics in Environmental Engineering/Resource Management



PhD Topics in Environmental Engineering/Resource Management



Candidates interested in a PhD in this field are requested to select one of the topics below and refer to it in their motivation letter.



Topic 1: Multi-dimensional optimization of Phosphorus management in Austria

The research builds on a former PhD that modelled and investigated the temporal change of the flows and stocks of Phosphorus (P) in Austria since 1991 by the application of material flow analysis (MFA) and the software STAN. One outcome of this work was the detection and modelling of 15 optimization steps producing an optimized target system for P management. The task of the proposed PhD study would be to extend the single-dimensional into a multi-dimensional optimization process considering economic and ecological criteria. The latter would mean that the P-model has to be completed by flows and stocks of nutrients (N, K,…) and metals (Cu, Zn,…) and the MFA work has to be completed by LCA impact investigations. For the resulting model, procedures for the optimization have to be implemented, adapted or developed. The outcome of the study is the economic and ecological evaluation of the different optimization steps and expected to be of relevance for decision making with respect to enhancing the efficiency of P management.


Egle, L., O. Zoboli, S. Thaler, H. Rechberger, and M. Zessner. The Austrian P budget as a basis for resource optimization. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 83:152–162, 2014. ISSN 0921-3449. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2013.09.009.

Thaler, S., M. Zessner, M. Weigl, H. Rechberger, K. Schilling, and H. Kroiss. Possible implications of dietary changes on nutrient fluxes, environment and land use in Austria. Agricultural Systems, 136:14–29, June 2015. ISSN 0308-521X. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2015.01.006.

Zoboli, O., David Laner, M. Zessner, and H. Rechberger. Added values of time series in Material Flow Analysis. The Austrian phosphorus budget from 1990 to 2011. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2015. doi: 10.1111/jiec.12381.

Zoboli, O., M. Zessner, and H. Rechberger. Enhancing phosphorus governance in Austria: potential, priorities and limitations. Science of the Total Environment (under review).

Topic 2: Development of a reliable and practical method to determine the concentration of micro-plastics in surface waters

The pollution of surface waters with micro-plastics has become problematic in many regions worldwide. In order to be able to determine the real extent of the problem reliable and practical methods are required to measure the concentration of plastics in water. TU Wien has developed a lab-method (elementary analysis in combination with a mathematical model) to determine the plastics content in mixed waste, an unknown mixture of plastics, biomass, and inert material, which also applies to the materials one might find in water samples. The proposed PhD work focuses on the development of representative sampling methods for suspended solids in water bodies and the adaptation of the lab-method to such samples. Also the relevance of determined loads will be assessed by means of Material Flow analysis. The work combines the fields of Resource Management, Water Quality, and Hydrology.

Schnöller, J.; Aschenbrenner, P.; Hahn, M.; Fellner, J.; Rechberger, H. Sample preparation and biomass determination of SRF model mixture using cryogenic milling and the adapted balance method, Waste Management, 34, 2014, 2171-2175. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2014.07.002

Fellner, J., Aschenbrenner, P., Cencic, O., Rechberger, H. Determination of the biogenic and fossil organic matter content of refuse-derived fuels based on elementary analyses, Fuel, 90, 2011, 3164-3171.