A systems approach to plastic waste valorisation


   Chemical Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

About the programme

The inherent limitations of conventional mechanical recycling technologies in dealing with highly contaminated plastic waste streams and the economic barriers for new chemical recycling technologies are among the major challenges in maintaining the value of plastic materials within the loop and to achieve a circular economy. Plastic waste that comprises a mixture of materials with variable properties and contamination level needs to be recycled, upcycled or recovered using advanced technologies which are economically promising and environmentally benign. The ultimate goal is to shift from selective plastics recycling (single and homogenous type of plastics) model into an “omnivorous” recycling (including highly contaminated and heterogeneous plastics) model while diverting more plastic waste from landfills and incineration, and preventing leakage to the environment.

This project aims to explore existing and emerging technologies for plastic waste valorisation. This project will adopt a whole system approach by considering the collection, transportation, pre-treatment (sorting, washing/cleaning) and reprocessing steps for plastic waste management. This will enable a more in-depth understanding of different technologies/strategies and further facilitate the decision-making process of which pathways could best maintain or maximise the overall value of plastic materials whilst reducing the cost of investment and environmental footprint.

Skills and Experience Required:

• Computational modelling: This project requires simulation modelling and mathematical optimisation techniques. Software such as Aspen Plus, Matlab, Python and GAMS will be applied.

• Sustainability assessment: This project involves rigorous techno-economic analysis and environmental life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA software such as Gabi or SimaPro will be applied.

Applicants should have received a First or Upper Second Class honours degree in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Chemistry or a similar discipline. Applicants should be highly motivated, able to work independently and in a team, and have good written and verbal communication skills.


Engineering (12) Environmental Sciences (13)

References

1. Ng, K.S., Phan, A.N., Iacovidou, E., Wan Ab Karim Ghani, W.A., 2021. Techno-economic assessment of a novel integrated system of mechanical-biological treatment and valorisation of residual municipal solid waste into hydrogen: A case study in the UK. J Clean Prod. 298: 126706.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126706
2. Ng, K.S., Phan, A.N., 2021. Evaluating the techno-economic potential of an integrated material recovery and waste-to-hydrogen system. Resour Conserv Recycl. 167: 105392.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105392

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