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Carbon Negative Cementised Precipitated Magnesium Carbonate Building Products

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M S Imbabi
    Dr W Afzal
    Prof F P Glasser
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The proposed PhD will investigate the production of different granularity and morphology Precipitated Magnesium Carbonate (PMC) derivative building products to reduce the carbon footprint and improve the performance of the built environment.

A University of Aberdeen research team, led by Dr Mohammed S Imbabi at the School of Engineering, has developed a novel mineralisation process that dissolves flue gas CO2 directly into slightly alkaline water. The carbonated water, when faced against brines from sources including underground aquifers, industrial wastes, reject desalination waters, etc., can under the right conditions precipitate high purity, controlled granularity carbon negative carbonate minerals, including PMC. This work led to Carbon Capture Machine (CCM) concept, and in September 2017 the formation of a new University of Aberdeen spinout company, CCM (UK) Ltd – see for further information.

Using CCMs, flue gas CO2 is selectively absorbed in dilute aqueous alkali, but N2 and O2 pass through and are exhausted. CO3-rich aqueous solution is then faced against formation, produced water, or similar brine containing Mg and other metallic cations. High purity PMC is thus mineralised / produced under pH control pH. The precipitation process described can operate continuously to yield PMC and other high value industry feedstocks. The depleted brine can be disposed of, re-injected to ground, or post-processed to produce industrial-grade water for other uses. CCMs are indifferent to the CO2 source, whether from coal or gas, or from the calcination of limestone. The end products of CO2 utilisation are not capacity limited, as they are relevant to more than just one or two markets, and new application areas are being continuously developed.

The PhD project will extend our understanding of the production method and uses of PMC. It will strengthen our ability to control (1) PMC granularity and morphology, (2) the efficiency of separation of other carbonate species, (c) process sensitivity to CO2 emission level, brine source and pollutant species, and importantly (d) the use of cementised PMC as a sustainable, performance-enhancing range of building products, including new incombustible drywall and thermal insulation products.

The successful PhD applicant will join a strong academic / industrial team with an established international reputation. It is anticipated that significant spinout research will follow project completion, opening up new career opportunities for the researcher and for Scotland in general.

S/He will, in time, Champions Scotland’s Low Carbon Potential, Support Oil and Gas Industry Strengths, help to Maintains Secure, Resilient Energy Supplies, and Empower Communities by contributing to the creation of new industries, products and employment opportunities.

Formal applications can be completed online:
• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Leverhulme CDT in Sustainable Production of Chemicals and Materials’ as the Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Further information on the Leverhulme Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Production of Chemical and Material can be found at:

Funding Notes

Scholars receive maintenance costs at Research Council rates and tuition fees at UK/EU rates. In 2018-19 the full-time maintenance grant was £14,777 p.a.

Selection will be on academic merit. The successful applicant is expected to have (or be close to graduating) an Honours BA or MA in a related area e.g. Civil, Chemical or Materials Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry, etc. with prior training in advanced analytical tools (XRD, SEM, etc.), an understanding of product compliance standards, evidence of research potential. S/He will have an interest in broader energy issues and will be expected to work in an interdisciplinary environment.

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