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  Assoc Prof R Irons, Dr Andy Gill  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

CPL Industries Limited is the UK’s market leader in the manufacture and supply of smokeless solid fuel used in domestic heating. CPL also produces a range of fuels that include renewable materials. 

CPL is currently undergoing a big push to produce solid fuels produced purely from renewable precursors. This is due to number of reasons, one main reason being stricter legislation around carbon emissions being put in place with more expected in the near future to meet emission targets. Ever increasingly biomass is being sought for using as a fuel source. Biomass can be problematic in terms of storage and low energy density means much more needs to be burnt to produce the same energy as coal. Combustion of raw biomasses can also be bad for emissions targets especially in producing particulates lowering air quality. One way to limit the volume required to burn and therefore particulate emissions is to undergo pyrolysis which de-volatises the biomass and increases the fixed carbon content and in doing so, energy density. Pyrolysis is also a step required in activated carbon production that CPL are looking towards. During pyrolysis oil and gases are produced. The oils have potential to be used for other applications, one example of this is the use the bio oils as a binder in the production of renewable smokeless solid fuel briquettes.  

This brings us to another technology Hydrothermal Carbonisation (HTC) that CPL are working to commercialise. CPL have the first pilot scale plant in the UK at its site in Immingham. HTC is a wet biomass conversion technology. It mimics the natural process of coal formation in just a few hours. The benefits of hydrothermal carbonisation is that biomass with a high moisture content is considered ideal whereas in the majority of cases they aren’t favoured due to this moisture causing issues without undergoing pre drying steps. Low quality biomass that is considered a waste can undergo hydrothermal carbonisation which occurs in the liquid phase and produces a carbon with comparable energy density as seen in wood pellets. The by-product of this is HTC process liquor which can possibly be used as a fertiliser if it is found to contain valuable nutrients.  

The project is geared towards the chosen student taking these pyrolysis oils and HTC effluent and seeing what value and uses can be extracted from them. This will include a large range of laboratory testing for composition analysis and also real-life application testing such as a potential renewable binder mention above. The student will be heavily interactive with the company working alongside the R&D team whom along with Nottingham University will give support and project direction. 

We are seeking applicants to start in October 2022

Candidates should have: 

§  a first or high 2.1 class honours degree in chemistry (analytical, applied, industrial, organic or synthetic) or equivalent (MEng) 

§ Good technical written and verbal communication skills 

§ Time management and ability to meet deadlines 

§ Ability to work independently and in a team 

In addition to the standard EPSRC stipend and payment of UK fees, there will be a stipend enhancement of £3750 per annum for 4 years, with £6000 per annum of funding for research costs and travel. 

The PhD student will work within the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) “Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems”. 

Please apply to the University of Nottingham.

Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr Robin Irons or Dr Andy Gill. Please note that applications sent directly to those email addresses will not be accepted. 

Funding Notes

This project is open to UK students and international students fulfilling the UK residency requirements to be classified as home student.
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