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David Pearce

PhD Student

David is a PhD student in the Murrell Lab in the School of Environmental Sciences at the UEA. His project focuses on profiling the methanotroph community within a landfill methane biofilter, alongside identification and investigation of the most active methane oxidisers. The main aim of this project is to study the distribution, diversity and activity of methanotrophs in the landfill biofilter at the closed landfill site at Strumpshaw, Norfolk and to investigate how to improve the efficiency and capacity of this biofilter.

This project is funded by the EnvEast (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership, in conjunction with Norfolk County Council as CASE partner.


Prof J Colin Murrell – University of East Anglia

Charles Wright – Norfolk County Council (CASE partner)

Dr Andrew Crombie – University of East Anglia

Project: Biofilters for mitigation of landfill methane emissions

Methane generated by the anaerobic decomposition of landfill waste represents a non-trivial component of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is a climate active gas roughly 25 times as potent as CO₂.

A common management strategy is to convert methane to CO₂ through combustion with concomitant electricity generation. Unfortunately, this method becomes impractical at low methane concentrations. One potential solution is passive biofiltration using methane oxidising methanotrophs to remove methane from low content streams.

The aim of this PhD is to gain insight into the biology of the active methanotrophs present in a trial biofilter (operated by Norfolk County Council) in order to inform future biofilter design and operating parameters. To this end, the methanotroph community in the biofilter will be studied and the major contributors to methane oxidation identified, isolated and characterised. The behaviour of these key methanotrophs and alterations in the biofilter community as a whole will be observed under changing physico-chemical conditions. The results will assist further refinement and development of these landfill biofilters, helping to make methane removal as efficient and consistent as possible.

Techniques used:

Isolation and characterisation of Methanotrophs, Gas chromatography, PCR,  Cloning, DNA Sequencing, Metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, Stable Isotope Probing (SIP), Raman Activated Cell Sorting


MSc Post-Genomic Biology, University of York

BSc Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Durham University


EnvEast (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership.

Norfolk County Council


Contact Details

School of Environmental Sciences,
University of East Anglia,
Norwich Research Park
Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK


+44 (0)1603 592239

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