School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Elizabeth Heidrich

Newcastle University Research Fellow


My first degree was in physical geography from Bristol University and after a period of working as a secondary school teacher I returned to academia in 2007 to gain an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Newcastle University. Working jointly with the Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments at Newcastle University and Northumbrian Water Ltd. I completed a PhD tackling the question of how to treat wastewater efficiently. Approaching this question systematically led to my initial work on quantifying the internal energy in wastewater. Developing a new methodology I discovered that wastewater has more energy than previously measured or estimated, published in Environmental Science and Technology the leading journal in its field. The strategic importance of my work to the wastewater industry led to substantial media and industrial interest.

Most of my research has though been in the field Bioelectrochemical systems. Creating value added products from the treatment of wastewater. I has designed, built and run to world’s first working pilot MEC producing valuable hydrogen gas from raw domestic wastewaters at ambient temperature, crucially operating over a 12 month period including a Northern England winter. This practical success is aided by understanding the fundamental biological processes occurring in these systems, as well as the properties of wastewater itself, and how these relate to real world application. My research interests are in understanding the fundamental aspects microbial systems, and how these may be controlled by energy. I believe in understanding the microbial world at this level we may be able to begin to control and engineer it.

Areas of expertise

  • Bioelectrochemical systems
  • Wastewater treatment


  • PhD Newcastle University 2012
  • MSc Environmental Engineering, Newcastle University 2008
  • BSc Geography, Bristol, 1999 

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Research Interests

Bioelectrochemical systems, in particular the application of these to industry

Thermodynamics and energy

Wastewater engineering

Microbial ecology 

Esteem Indicators

Reviewer for Water Research, International Journal for Hydrogen Energy, Journal of Power Resources, Energy Technology and Environmental Technology, Bioelechem and others.  


  • EPSRC DTA funded PhD studentship, 2017, (Recovering energy and nutrients from AD filtrate using BES) value £60,000
  • BBSRC AD Network Proof of Concept Grant 2017 (Novel bioelectrodes for energy positive ammonia removal from municipal wastewater) Co-Investigator,.value £59,965
  • Newton Fund Mobility Grant 2015 (Pilot microbial electrolysis cell developments), value £4000
  • EPSRC STREAM Eng. Doc Northumbrian water Ltd 2015-2019 (Rational design of Bioelectrochemical Systems) Co-Supervisor, value £173,314 (£90,000 from industry)
  • EPSRC STREAM Eng. Doc. with Northumbrian water Ltd 2013-2016  (Production of hydrogen from the treatment of wastewater using Microbial Electrolysis Cells) Co-supervisor, value £174,148 (£91,000 from industry)
  • EPSRC doctoral training grant 2008-2011 (Sustainable wastewater treatment using a Microbial Electrolysis Cell) value £50,000
  • Northumbrian Water Ltd project funding 2009-2011 (Wastewater treatment with the production of Hydrogen), value £40,000


I have been module leader for MSc modules of CEG8105 Solid Waste, and CEG8103 Water Supply and Treatment. I have also contributed to the Hydraulics and Wastewater Engineering modules.  

I have supervised a variety of MSc, MEng and BEng  projects in the areas of bioelectrochemical systems, energy from wastewater.