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Assessing the potential of concrete for atmospheric CO2 removal (EPS2022/41)

   School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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  Dr P Renforth, Dr Mijndert van der Spek  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Alkaline industrial materials (e.g., cement, lime, iron and steel waste) are amongst the largest mass flows that humanity creates. Their creation and use are essential to society, but the manufacturing process of many of these materials emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

They also readily react with CO2 to form solid carbonate minerals, or dissolved bicarbonate solutions, and thus may be able to help prevent climate change. If combined with other forms of emissions reduction, reacting these materials with atmospheric CO2 may result in industries that are either carbon neutral or slightly net negative emitters.

However, fundamental chemical data is missing on the behaviour of these materials with CO2. The aim of this PhD project will be to develop novel laboratory experiments to complete this knowledge gap making a real step-change in our understanding of how these materials react with CO2. Also, the student will work with industrial partners who create and manage these materials, to produce relevant guidance or best practice. Work is most likely based at Heriot-Watt, but some visits to industrial partners may be necessary.

We are looking to recruit an excellent student who is motivated by a desire to contribute to preventing climate change. Experience with geochemistry, environmental sciences, chemical engineering, and laboratory experimentation are highly desirable. The funding requires the student to hold either UK or EU nationality.

The student will join Heriot-Watt’s Research Centre for Carbon Solutions, an internationally leading centre for researching proposals to prevent climate change. The centre includes state of the art laboratories, servicing a dynamic community of students and researchers.

How to Apply

1. Important Information before you Apply

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:

(a) in ‘Study Option’

You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD, Physics PhD, Chemical Engineering PhD, Mechanical Engineering PhD, Bio-science & Bio-Engineering PhD or Electrical PhD as appropriate and select September 2022 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)

(b) in ‘Research Project Information’

You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the potential supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts. 

Funding Notes

This project will be funded via a competitive scholarship from the doctoral training programme, or James Watt scholarship programme. There are a number of scholarships available which offer funding from between 3 and 3.5 years at an average stipend rate of £15,000 per year.


Renforth, P. The negative emission potential of alkaline materials. Nature Communications. 10:1401
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