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Decarbonising Manchester Airport through Bioenergy

   Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering

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  Dr A Welfle, Dr B Parkes, Prof N Scrutton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Greater Manchester aims to be carbon neutral by 2038. One of the largest emitters in the region is Manchester Airport, which annually handles over 200,000 flights, from 28 million passengers and more than 117,000 tonnes of freight. Quantifying and subsequently reducing the carbon footprint of Manchester Airport is a key component of the goal of carbon neutral Manchester.
As with all large organisations, Manchester Airport and its associated partners operate many supply chains that provide the airport with all the resources and materials required to maintain operation. From these supply chains and through the day to day operation of the airport many different forms of wastes are generated – through applying bioenergy technologies these materials may provide opportunities to decarbonise the airport and aviation.

For example the wastes and residues generated as a result of the food required to service the millions of passengers, could be a potentially valuable feedstocks that could be used generate energy from biomass for the airport or could be converted to bio-kerosene – an alternative low carbon jet fuel.

The use of wastes for bioenergy will reduce the volumes of materials sent to landfill, whilst the generated bioenergy may replace fossil fuel alternatives – both providing a mechanism for the airport to reduce its carbon footprint. Where anaerobic digestion bioenergy technologies are used there would also be the generation of digestate materials that may be used as a alternative fertiliser that could provide further environmental benefits and an addition revenue stream for the airport.

The initial focus of this project will be on Manchester Airport; later stages of the project will investigate the potential for deploying bioenergy technologies for similar organisations across the UK and around the world. For example the developing world has less reliable energy systems and a secondary source of energy for major organisations such as airports will increase resilience to shocks like weather events driven by the change climate.

Project outline
The project will consist of the following work themes:
• Working with Manchester Airport analyses will be undertaken to evaluate the airport’s footprint, both the: supply chains, materials and resources required to keep the airport running, and; the GHG emissions footprint of airports operations, including its supply chains.

• Analyse the types and quantities of waste and residue materials generated by Manchester Airport, both through its supply chains and direct operations. Evaluate the current waste management practices for each of these wastes and analyse the potential for their alternative use within bioenergy applications.

• Working with industry partner C3 BIOTECH, undertake techno-economic (TEA) and lifecycle assessment (LCA) analyses to evaluate the suitability of different bioenergy technologies that could be deployed to generate bioenergy and fuels to reduce the GHG footprint of the airport.

• Working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s ‘Carbon Neutral 2038 Team’, analyse the contribution of the airport’s emissions to their carbon budgets, and provide scenarios for how this may be reduced through deployment of bioenergy technologies at the airport.

• The processes and analysis steps developed through this research project will be brought together as a single ‘Manchester Methodology’, and opportunities will be sought to replicate the project focusing on different airports and large organisations both in the UK and internationally.

• Applying this methodology, analyse the types and quantities of wastes present in a developing world site such as an airport, university or rural village to define the relative benefits of deploying a bioenergy technologies such as anaerobic digesters.

Tyndall Manchester Is part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, a world leading interdisciplinary research group which has produced impactful, policy relevant years for 20 years. At Tyndall Manchester researchers from engineering, physical science, social science and economics backgrounds working on the biggest challenges for climate change mitigation and adaptation. This includes current projects on energy system decarbonisation, bioenergy and carbon removal technologies, circular economy, the water-energy-food nexus, shipping and aviation, and community energy. Based in the University of Manchester’s School of Engineering, Tyndall Manchester has excellent links to departments across the University and with industry and policy makers worldwide. Recently shortlisted for the Guardian University Research Impact Award on sustainability, Tyndall Manchester has an ongoing commitment to impactful agenda setting research.

Ref: MACEEngines, MACEIndustry4.0

Funding Notes

Funding is provided by the School of Engineering and the EPSRC DTP. Home applicants and EU applicants who meet the residency requirement are eligible to apply.

Information on standard fees is available at View Website and information on typical stipend is available at View Website.

General enquiries relating to the postgraduate application process within Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering should be directed to: Martin Lockey ([Email Address Removed]).


As an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. As the School is committed to the principles of the Race Equality Charter Mark and Athena SWAN, we would particularly welcome applications from women and the black and minority ethnic (BME) community, who are both currently under-represented at this grade. All appointments will be made on merit.

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