Mariana Vieira Turnell Suruagy
- Course: Adding heat to the digestate: Alternative route to eliminating the digestate and recovering valuable compounds
Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds?
I always wanted to study abroad. I didn't have a chance to do so earlier on because of motherhood, and all the responsibilities that came with it, including work. An opportunity arose when I was contemplated with a Brazilian scholarship to do my PhD.
After working in the industrial area for a couple of years (Waste Water Treatment Plant) in Brazil, I decided it was time to go back to academia and try to apply some of the knowledge acquired into something new. I started searching for a university with a good reputation and more importantly, that had links with companies and industry, enabling the PhD students to enter the market once the academic work is complete.
Therefore, the decision to study at the University of Leeds was based on its excellent international reputation and for having one of the best postgraduate course and expertise in my area of research.
Although my family (husband and two kids) could not accompany me on the PhD journey, I´m sure the time and effort invested will be beneficial for all of us in the future.
Tell us about your research.
My PhD research is a very promising idea for the Anaerobic Digestion industry. This sector has been having problems regarding the disposal route and increasing costs associated with the haulage and treatment of the final product of the anaerobic digestion process- digestate.
The A.D industry is known for dealing with various types of wastes, including food waste, which is being continuously generated at increasing rates, without appropriate treatment, thus creating environmental impacts such as the emissions of Green House Gas (GHG) to the atmosphere.
Therefore, a new technology namely Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) is going to be applied to the digestate as a mechanism for eliminating it, as well as generating hydrochar- used for soil amelioration.
Moreover, the process water, also a product from the HTC, known for having a considerable amount of nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorous) is going to be applied on a subsequent Anaerobic Digestion process, thus generating valuable products such as Volatile Fatty Acids and Methane and avoiding the impacts of food waste discarded in landfills.
What is your favourite part of doing your research at Leeds?
Being a researcher at the University of Leeds has given me the opportunity to work and interact with people from different parts of the world. Additionally, it will enable me to have access to technologies which are not yet available in my home country- Brazil. Both aspects compose my favourite part of doing my research at the University of Leeds.
What activities do you take part in outside of your research studies?
Unfortunately, at the moment, I´m not taking part in any activity outside the academia world. However, the University of Leeds is known for having numerous extracurricular activities, such as food, sports and religious societies from which the students can benefit from by becoming a member.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Once I accomplish my PhD title, I would like to go back to work within the industry. I´m aware of the prestigious companies working in the Anaerobic Digestion sector within the UK and it would be an honour for me to be part of their team. Moreover, I would also like to contribute to the development of the Anaerobic Digestion sector in my country, which compared to the UK, is still very rudimental, hence, benefitting from the knowledge and experience acquired by the student during the PhD studies.
Do you have any advice to anyone considering coming to Leeds?
Regardless of the academic area, the University of Leeds is an excellent choice for students who are thinking of pursuing a postgraduate degree and are prepared to work hard. It offers the best technologies available, as well as the opportunity to work with a team of expertise and members of staff who are prepared to give you support that goes beyond academic spectrum.