In Year 1, the student will carry out a thorough literature review on biopiles as a remediation biotechnology, the development and use of digital twins in biotechnologies and the integration of molecular biology to other complex data. The student will be trained in the necessary analytical chemistry and molecular biology lab skills. An initial lab-scale experiment will be designed, looking at the two soils we have already characterised in detail with a unique set of amendment condition. This will establish the template for future mesocosms and enable to establish and validate sample and data workflows.
In Year 2, the student will continue to develop and test workflows for the processing, cleaning and analysis of the data produced by the first lab-scale experiment. They will present the initial approach for the characterisation of degradation kinetics for a whole sample and investigate correlation with the microbial ecology. This should lead to the design of several new lab-scale biopiles experiments, using a new soils and various types of amendments- prioritising aeration and nutrients. The kinetics and the time series change of the microbial communities will be characterised and compared, for example, using temporal spline based and timeOmics approaches.
In Year 3, the student will carry out statistical integration of the data and work on prediction models. This will lead to an initial design of a digital twin model. The model will be tested on a lab-scale and a field-scale biopile of the same soil, working with our industrial partner ERS. The soil will be characterised, comprehensively analysed for chemical composition and microbial ecology; the same set of amendments will be reproduced in both tests. The capacity of the twin to predict and help optimised bioremediation of hydrocarbons in biopiles will be evaluated.
This is expected to be time spent by the student to finish writing the thesis.