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Carbon capture and utilisation for the production of valuable mineral feedstocks

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M S Imbabi
    Dr W Afzal
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

A team of researchers at the University of Aberdeen has developed novel Precipitated Magnesium Carbonate (PMC) cements and products from desalination brine. They subsequently developed a novel process to selectively precipitate high value Precipitated Calcium Carbonates (PCCs), PMC and other useful carbonates from stack CO2 emissions and formation brines. These discoveries underpin a potent new, practically useful and affordable Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) technology that is embodied in the Carbon Capture Machine (CCM) concept that is being taken forward through the NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize competition. The successful applicant will become a part of this team and work on a specific aspect of CCM design, construction, testing and scale up of the world first fully operational CCM.

Basic Carbon Capture Machine (CCM) design incorporates a number of key stages. The first is a flue gas scrubber, to remove undesirable combustion products such as SOx and PMs. This is followed by an aqueous alkaline sorption stage where at least 90% of the CO2 content is removed from the gas stream. The resulting carbonate rich fluid is then interfaced with high salinity brine leading to the controlled, selective precipitation of useful solids in one or more stages, depending on the specific cations contained in the brine, under carefully controlled conditions. The final stages invole, separation, drying, and depending on the final product desired, thermal treatment.

Primary aims of the research team the successful PhD candidate will join are to maximise CO2 capture efficiency, minimise production cost, energy use and the associated carbon footprint of the mineralisation process, and last but not least to maximise the value of the precipitated product. This will be achieved through the application of theory, simulation, laboratory experiments at 2 kg CO2 per day capture capacity, followed by pilot scale CCM trials at 200, then 2,000 kg CO2 per day capture capacity in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The 3-year project undertaken by the successful PhD candidate will revolve around the design and use of the small, lab bench 2 kg CO2 per day CCM, graduating to development of one of the key stages, either the flue gas scrubber or possibly aspects of animation of the precipitation stage – we have considerable flexibility in matching the candidates interests and abilities to different aspects of CCM design and implementation.

If successful, the PhD student could find they are a member of the team that wins the Carbon XPrize, opening the door to future fame, wealth and glory in the newly emerging field of Carbon Capture and Utilisation. Outcome notwithstanding, the journey will be an exciting one of fun and discovery!

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in chemical engineering or other relevant engineering or materials science discipline.

Essential background: Demonstrable ability of working independently on own initiative and in a team environment; Good organisational skills, with a track record of working effectively with collaborative partners and academic colleagues.

Knowledge of - Basic knowledge in two or more of the following research areas: process engineering, the thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical processes, cement and concrete materials and products (including applicable standards), the microstructure of cementitious materials, and different material characterisation methods and tools.

Funding Notes

This project is for self-funded students only. There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to pay Tuition Fees and living expenses, from their own resources, for the duration of study.


1. JL Galvez-Martos, J Morrison, G Jauffret, E Elsarrag, Y AlHorr, MS Imbabi, FP Glasser, Environmental assessment of aqueous alkaline absorption of carbon dioxide and its use to produce a construction material, Resources, Conservation and Recycling (IF 3.28), 107, 129-141, 2016.
2. FP Glasser, G Jauffret, J Morrison, JL Galvez-Martos, N Patterson, MS Imbabi, Sequestering CO2 by mineralization into useful nesquehonite-based products, Frontiers in Energy Research (IF 1.52), 4, 3, 2016.


This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Engineering. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE YOU WISH TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 2 projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M Imbabi ([email protected] with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

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

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