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Biomass fractionation into high-value fuels and chemicals

Project Description

Self-funded applications are invited for a three-year PhD programme, to be undertaken within the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. The PhD student will join an established experimental group working on thermal and catalytic biomass conversion processes for biofuels and biochemicals.


Considering the shortage of fossil fuels and the increasing demand for fuels and chemicals, it has been necessary to explore alternative sources in order to cope with the fossil fuel deficit. Biomass is a widely available renewable feedstock, which can be processed to obtain biofuels or biochemicals.

This PhD will explore different physical and chemical processing stages for biomass, in order to obtain high-value fuels and chemicals. These process stages include biomass pre-treatment, thermal treatment via fast-pyrolysis, and acid hydrolysis. The combination of these processes is a common practice in biorefineries, where biomass is fractionated to make high-value products for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, transportation, energy sector, construction, etc. Diverse experimental and analytic techniques will be used in combination in order to characterise and optimise both biomass feedstock and products. The research topic is flexible and can be modified according to particular research interests within this research area.


The applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemical Engineering or a closely related area. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of thermochemical processing of biomass and biomass model compounds, acid hydrolysis, catalytic process design, catalyst development, biofuels, biochemicals, and biorefineries.

We would particularly like to encourage application from women seeking to progress their academic careers. Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recently recognised by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive environment and family atmosphere.


For informal enquiries about this project and similar PhD opportunities, contact Dr Paula Blanco-Sanchez (). Submit your CV, full academic records including achieved grades, motivation letter, and funding source details.

Funding Notes

The project is offered to self-funded students. Candidates will need to clearly state in their application how they plan to cover a three-year tuition fee for PhD studies plus bench fees.

How good is research at Aston University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.63

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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