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Algae feedstock for bioenergy generation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 29, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

A major challenge in contemporary energy and environmental management is to develop processes for energy generation and storage that are environmentally sustainable. Fossil derived fuels contribute to global warming and are a depletable energy resource. It is increasingly becoming clear that the alternative of deriving energy from biological sources such as agricultural crops is not a sustainable route and more efficient routes of generating energy from biological sources are required. Microalgae are photosynthetic organisms that can be employed to develop processes that can sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as from point sources emitting CO2 in significant amounts, such as power plants to generate biomass that can in turn be used for the production of fuel or fuel precursors. These include ethanol, butanol, hydrogen, methane, hydrocarbons, etc. In addition, microbial fuel cells and biobatteries offer solution towards energy storage. Microbial processes have the potential for development towards sustainable bioenergy generation options as the inputs can be sourced from readily available feedstocks in a sustainable manner. Nevertheless challenges exist in converting the potential to viable processes.
The aim of this project is to study and examine engineering strategies that include cultivation of microbes in consortia to develop processes for energy generation and energy storage that will be environmentally sustainable. An understanding of microbial metabolism and feedstock utilisation will form the basis of developing strategies that are viable.

The student will have the opportunity to apply biochemical and energy engineering principles and will get training in the cultivation of microalgae in submerged bioprocesses, under batch and continuous culture conditions. The candidate will gain expertise in renewable energy generation and storage. The successful applicant will develop multidisciplinary skills in microalgae physiology and chemical and energy engineering. The student will be familiarised with Good Laboratory Practice regulations, COSHH, research ethics, confidentiality and development of generic transferable skills including IT, critical evaluation, problem solving, data collection and analysis, team working, time management, written and communications skills will be ensured. The student will also get a chance to interact with research members of the ChELSI Institute at the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering and the wider microalgae research community within and outside Sheffield, in addition to relevant industries.

The project will provide the necessary interdisciplinary skills for the student to pursue research and development in the sustainable use of materials for manufacturing and renewable energy sectors. Potential employers include the emerging and futuristic bio-based industry and the energy sector industries.

All the methodology and instrumentation required to achieve the objectives of the proposal are available in the applicant’s laboratory and through University-wide facilities and these will be available for the student during the duration of the project.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline ((Bio-)Chemical/Environmental/Energy Engineering or Bioscience/Microbiology). A strong undergraduate background in bioscience or chemical/biochemical engineering/energy engineering, with an interest in sustainable energy generation, renewable energy, microalgae physiology, and/or biochemistry is desired. The applicant should have been educated to degree level through the medium of English or have IELTS 7 or equivalent.

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