Globally, the food system accounted for about 30% of total energy consumption and 20% of GHG emissions in 2011 (FAO, 2016). The supply chain, especially cold chain (temperature-controlled supply chain, including fridge, freezer, refrigerated truck/van cold box etc.) is a key player in ensuring food quality and safety. However, temperature-controlled processing, distribution and storage, often based on inefficient equipment and protocols, have a significant environmental impact. The food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and is predicted to increase with the population growth. Conventional supply chains for frozen foods are energy intensive and often use high-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants. To achieve UK’s zero-carbon emissions target by 2050, the food supply chain, including frozen foods, needs to be decarbonised. How the decarbonisation will be achieved has significant implications for the economy, food and drink industry, social wellbeing, food security and energy system.
In this context, the overall aim of this project would be to identify those food manufacturing and supply scenarios that would lead to successful strategies for the transition to net-zero in frozen food supply chains. The student will need to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to identify technical and non-technical drivers of demand for food cold-chain, and estimate the energy use and emissions up to 2050.
The project will combine techno-economic and environmental aspects in an integrated engineering approach for the design and evaluation of decarbonisation solutions for the supply chain of frozen foods, focusing on food processing and distribution stages, also looking at clean technologies across manufacturing scales and logistic scenarios. These objectives require the development and implementation of suitable simulation/optimisation and decision-making tools, for which a high level of engineering and computational competence, coupled with adequate knowledge of (bio)food and energy systems is desirable.
The candidate should be a UK citizen/EU with settled status, and should have a postgraduate degree or at least a strong upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering or another suitable branch of Engineering/Energy/Sustainability. Candidates with knowledge and experiences in whole systems analysis are preferred. Fluent English speaking and writing are required.
Applications comprising a detailed CV, cover letter, the names and addresses of two referees (and any supporting transcripts, if available) should be sent by email to Dr Estefania Lopez-Quiroga ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr Xinfang Wang ([Email Address Removed]) who would also welcome informal enquiries. The successful applicant will be required subsequently to submit a standard application to the University.