Professor Katherine Huddersman

Job: Professor of Enviromental Chemistry

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: Leicester School of Pharmacy

Research group(s): Centre for Engineering Science and Advanced Systems (CESAS)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 257 7134




Personal profile

As Head of DMU’s Wastewater Treatment Research Group I conduct fundamental and applied research into the chemical treatment of wastewater and in collaboration with microbiologists their use in disinfection. This platform technology has resulted in   a number of international patents pursued by industry and which is now available at industrial scale for exploitation. My work is innovative and recognised both nationally and internationally by the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) with a number of internationally recognised publications and membership of national and international panels for evaluation of research. I have generated over £3million in research grant funding mostly from UK Government funding bodies and collaborate extensively with leading industries which actively support my research group. I have an interdisciplinary research group covering the areas of reactor design, engineering, wastewater analysis, chemistry of catalysis and ion-exchange, characterisation of materials and microbiology.

My research interests are in micro- and macroporous silicate materiaIs (zeolites) developed whilst a post- doctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College, London University and since 1996 in fibrous materials for ion-exchange, catalysis and disinfection.

Research group affiliations

  • Centre for Engineering Science and Advanced Systems (CESAS)


  • BSc (1st Class Hons.) and Ph.D in Chemistry, University of London
  • Further Education Teaching Certificate (City and Guilds)

Membership of external committees

  • Member of EPSRC Peer Review College
  • Member of EU Research Grant Evaluation Panels

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the Society of Chemistry in Industry

Externally funded research grants information

“Disinfection of cysts and spores using the novel catalyst” (2017-18), £70,000. This project investigated the advantages of using the Fenton-like heterogeneous catalyst in laboratory batch system over a range of different oxidising disinfectants e.g. hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite etc.

“Novel MW and UV assisted catalytic oxidation process for destruction of priority hazardous substances” (2017-18). Funded for £100,000 by SBRI (Innovate-UK) Phase II –Collaboartive studyA pilot scale MW assisted rotating disc reactor was adapted to take UV lamps and tested at Bo’Ness at Scottish Water test site for the destruction  of simulated Produced Water and pesticides from  a major chemical company.

“Cellulose based catalyst for wastewater treatment”, (2016-18) funded by The Schlumberger Foundation for £60,000 to devlop chitin  based porous materials for wastewater treatment.

“Novel MW and UV assisted catalytic oxidation process for destruction of priority hazardous substances” (2015). An  award of  £50,000 by SBRI (Innovate-UK) Phase I –Feasability study. A laboratory scale MW and UV asssisted rotating disc catalytic reactor was designed and built and tested in  the destruction  of the pharmaceutic clotrimazole and the pesticide carbetamide.

“Novel UV-assisted catalytic process for the treatment of Brazil wastewater and reuse”, (2016-8), funded for a total of £600,000 by Innovate-UK in  a Newton Brazil-UK Collaborative Industrial Research and Development Competition. This designed and built novel pilot scale UV assisted rotating disc reactor incorporating a catalyst mesh for the advanced oxidation of industrial laundry wastewater in  Brazil. The project involved both a UK and Brazil wastewater treatment company and SENAI in  Brazil.

“UV and Microwave Assisted Oxidation Catalysis System”, (2015-17),Horizon 2020 EU Marie Curie Incoming Fellowship for £195,000. This project participated in  the design and build of laboratory and pilot scale UV/MW assisted rotating disc reactors incorporating the novel catalytic mesh. CFD modelling of flows in  the reactor and simulation of the microwave flux distribution was performed.

Application of a novel material in the remediation of zinc from mine drainage” (2014) funded by The Coal Authority of Great Britain. This project grant of £57,000 is for a 3 month trial of a pilot scale treatment system for the removal of zinc, cadmium and lead salts.

“MICROCAT –Microwave assistance to catalytic oxidation of pesticides and humics”, (2013-6), funded for £990,916 by the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC. This project developed a pilot-scale wastewater treatment system with enhanced performance and smaller footprint. The project focusses on the application of the novel catalyst in the treatment of agricultural wastewaters and hard to treat pesticides in collaboration with a number of industrial partners.

Biocidal applications of the novel oxidation catalyst”,(2005-8), Ph.D studentship funded by EPSRC to investigate the catalytic potentiation of hydrogen peroxide by the catalyst and its ability to effect a log 5 kill of gram negative and gram positive bacteria, yeast, mycobacteria and spores.

Heterogeneous catalytic oxidation of contaminated air and water”, (2005-9 ), £385,799 from the UK Government Home Office to investigate the ability of the novel catalyst in the decontamination of sulphur compounds.

Novel Catalyst for Low Cost Treatment of Effluent”, (2005-8), a £1,173,100 project funded by the UK Government’s Department of Trade and Industry. This project had a number of industrial partners resulting in a successful scale up of catalyst manufacture to meet the needs of industry. A  UK Municipal Water Authority (Severn Trent Water) as end-user resulted in a successful pilot scale demonstration in the degradation of estrogens in wastewater.

Effluent Treatment Catalyst from Low Value Fleeces”, (2004-7) was funded for £325,336 by the UK Government Department of Food Fisheries and Agriculture. This project investigated the sustainable use of coarse wool from highland sheep as a catalyst support.

 “Investigative studies of a novel heterogeneous catalyst for effluent treatment”, (2001-2), an award from The Royal  Society  of  Great Britain for £12,500.This grant funded a NATO post-doctoral research assistant for one year, for characterisation studies on the thickness of the catalyst layer on the fibre surface and the effect of the catalyst impregnation solution to resultant activity

Published patents

“Antimicrobial Catalyst”, Patent US8513303 (B2) granted 20 th August 2013, EP2185271 (B1) published 19 th May 2010, 

“Selection Method in Production of Fibrous Catalyst”, EP2192980 (A2) published, 9 th June 2010 and US9174208 (B2) published 28 th April 2011. Granted

“Methods for the Production of a Wool Catalyst”, British Patent Application No. 0716622.6,   Granted 28 th March 2012

“Improvements in the Method for the Production of Fibrous Catalysts”,    published 12 th November 2011 and US8410011 (B2) granted 2 nd April 2013.

“Rotating Contactor Reactor”,  WO2017046589 (A1) published 23rd March 2017

Case studies

Landfill leachate Working with FCC an international waste recycling company we ran a 4 year pilot scale trial (reactor tank 32L) at Bradgate landfill site in Leicester UK from 2009 to 2014. The catalyst was never replaced as there was no deactivation during this time. 100% of BOD was achieved and up to 80% reduction in overall COD on a waste water varying between 3,000-8,000 mg/L COD. In addition there was excellent removal of methane, H 2 S and hazardous chemical compounds. 75% reduction in TSS, 25% removal in ammonia, and effective removal of trace metals. The treatment system produced no sludge, easy to operate and maintain running under ambient conditions, coped with shock loads and had no contamination of treated feed with catalyst.

Municipal Wastewater A similar pilot scale field trial at Longbridge owned by Severn Trent Water Authority in 2009 resulted in 80-90% removal of the estrogens E1, E2 and EE2 from initial concentrations of 45.67, 7.69 and 0.5ng/L, respectively. Influent was taken after biological treatment but before sand filtration, COD of 40mg/L, TOC of 11mg/L.

Zinc Remediation from Mine Drainage A 60 L reactor tank in a pilot scale treatment system for the removal of zinc from mine drainage water is undergoing a 3 month trial for the Coal Authority. Results so far have shown an average of ~80% removal in zinc from initial concentrations of around 60ppm dissolved zinc with a flow rate of 27.6L/hour. The trial has been running at this level for nearly a month without regeneration. Engineering parameters such as residence time will be varied to explore the system capability.

Wastewater from Manufacture of Pesticides

A 6 week field trial funded by SBRI (Innovate-UK) was conducted with Scottish Water at their Bo’Ness site on the remediation of a number of toxic fungicides on the Priority List of Hazardous Substances. An 80L rotating chemical contactor reactor incorporating the Efflotreat catalyst assisted by UV and microwaves to provide a Photo-Fenton AOP with mild heating to 35°C was used in the remediation.

Total initial pesticide concentration of ~1000mg/L was reduced to below 2mg/L with no blocking of the open mesh catalyst. This suggests that this treated wastewater could potentially be treated at a local smaller Municipal works site once toxicity studies have been performed to determine the required level of treatment.

At Allerton Wildlife Project the wastewater comprised a commercial formulation “Crawler” containing 60% of the carbamate pesticide carbetamide at a concentration of 10mg/L active. Over 97% degradation was achieved at pH 3 and a temperature of 30oC with a hydrogen peroxide dosing of 500mg/L and a retention time in the reactor of 6 hours. This was compared to the unassisted catalysis where the temperature was 9oC and only 22% degradation of carbetamide was achieved.

Produced Water from Oil Mining

Successful trials funded by SBRI (Innovate-UK) on the treatment of simulated produced water have been conducted with Scottish Water using an 80L rotating chemical contactor reactor incorporating the Efflotreat catalyst assisted by UV and microwaves to provide a Photo-Fenton AOP with mild heating to 35°C.

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons were reduced from 156mg/L to below 0.38mg/L and dimethyl phenol from 28mg/L to 0.09mg/L. Initial COD was 1500mg/L which was reduced by 50% using an initial hydrogen peroxide dosing of 1000mg/L.

Textile Wastewater

The EFFLOTREAT® catalyst/hydrogen peroxide system has been applied to the treatment of a range of azo and anthraquinone dyes and surfactants using model compounds as well as real effluent from a textile dyers.  Working with Leicester based dyers and funded by an Innovate-UK Innovation grant, the system was found to be to remove 95% of auxiliaries and impurities and 98.5% of dyes.


Extensive experimental work at De Montfort University by Dr S Walsh and Professor K Huddersman has demonstrated that the catalyst, incorporating a non-toxic transition metal cation available at industrial scale, significantly increases the activity of H2O2 against a wide range of microorganisms. For example, vegetative bacteria (E. coli, S. aureus, Ps. aeruginosa), yeast (C. albicans), mycobacteria (M. chelonae), acathameoba cysts (A. castellanii) and bacterial endospores (B. subtilis and B. cereus).