Over 100 years ago, UCL’s Civil Engineering department took a leading role in research and education of scientists and engineers to tackle water-borne pathogens. The idea of water treatment and the development of water and wastewater engineering discipline transformed the world; we are still benefiting from this today. Can we transform the world one more time to tackle the new and emerging diseases in the 21st Century? How to work with nature to optimise the value and function of urban infrastructure? How to build a resilient, sustainable and secure city?

Here are 2 water projects which are part of our Healthy Infrastructure Research Group:

Urban ecological engineering

Waste water treatment is one of the biggest challenges for urban sustainability. With climate change and increasing incidents of flooding in the UK and other parts of the world, waste water treatment facilities also play a key role on urban resilience to various environmental challenges. Following concepts of Biomimicry, that is taking inspiration from nature, its models, systems, processes and elements to solve design problems sustainably. Reducing the wasteful throughput of materials indeed, eliminating the very idea of waste, can be accomplished by redesigning industrial systems on biological lines that change the nature of industrial processes and materials, enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles, and often the elimination of toxicity

Bridging the gap between Sanitation in Disaster Relief and in Development

Disaster relief employs short term solutions which aim to prevent loss of human life and encourage local recovery. However, it has been criticised as a “quick fix” approach, aimed solely at emergency response and failing to acknowledge longer term needs. Alternatively, development involves creating resilient communities by implementing sustainable long term technologies which can reduce poverty and improve quality of life. Both approaches are focussed on the welfare of the community, but the link between the two is often weak and sometimes non-existent, giving rise to waste of resources, loss of valuable man power and opportunities for growth.

Can we do something about this? Can we create a sanitation technology that will be simple and efficient enough to be applied in an emergency setting; effective enough to be developed into infrastructure and community friendly enough to be implemented and/or adapted in any region? This research project,which will span a minimum of three years,will initially investigate the issues and constraints encountered in the delivery of effective, safe sanitation in a disaster relief setting and in long term development. In particular this research gives emphasis to rural sanitation challenges in developing countries, during post-flooding and earthquake events.

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