The project, ‘PHARMA AD’ will explore the efficacy of anaerobic digestion (AD) to remove pharmaceutical residues from waste water produced, for example by hospitals or industry, and support the improvement in the quality of water resources throughout Europe.

AD is a series of natural biological process whereby organic waste material, such as waste water and sewage sludge, is broken down by micro-organisms and converted into biogas, which can be used as an alternative source of energy to replace fossil fuels.

As anaerobic digestion does not remove nutrients, the project will combine pharmaceutical residues removal by AD with biological nutrient removal by micro-algae cultivation.

PHARMA AD is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, an EU programme for researcher mobility awarding €6 billion in the period to 2020 to support research training and career development focused on innovation skills.

Ania Escudero, a researcher in environmental science at the Neiker-Tecnalia Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development in Spain, will join a research team at GCU for two years.

The team aims to contribute to the European aims of water protection and resource efficiency by working with European industry and university partners.

Ania will work with Professor Ole Pahl, an environmental engineer from GCU’s School of Engineering and Built Environment and Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology Research, who is working on a £7 million study to raise awareness of the presence of pharmaceutical residues in waste water and explore new methods of reducing them.

The European Union funded research project ‘noPILLS’ is focused on raising awareness of the residue medicines and other pharmaceutical products leave in water when they pass through the human body, or are washed off.

Professor Pahl said: “This new inter-disciplinary project will strengthen GCU collaboration with researchers from different scientific, industry and EU regional backgrounds and contribute to the European aims of water protection and resource efficiency.”



Glasgow Caledonian University: ‘Researchers investigate new processes to remove pharmaceuticals from water

NoPILLS project website