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High Temperature Processing of Titanomagnetite Ironsand

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Chris Bumby
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

This PhD project will be undertaken jointly between the Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and the University of Wollongong (Australia).

Titanomagnetite ironsand is an abundant and low cost iron ore, and substantial deposits are to be found along the west coast of New Zealand. NZ ironsand has a TiO2 content of ~ 8% which precludes large-scale blast furnace smelting, and as a result this ore is presently under-utilised within commercial iron and steel-making processes. Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) processes which utilise natural gas present an alternative approach to processing NZ ironsand, and the dramatic drop in natural gas prices over recent years has led to a resurgence of interest in this area.

The PhD project will undertake experimental investigations of the high-temperature reduction of NZ ironsand fines under reducing gas atmospheres, with particular emphasis on CH4 and H2. The primary aim is to characterise the reduction kinetics of this process and define key parameters which can enable the industrial production of Direct-reduced Iron from NZ ironsand using natural-gas. A secondary aim will look at the development of a novel DRI process for the high-throughput reduction of gas-entrained titanomagnetite fines.

Experimental work will include ex-situ and in-situ study of gas-solid reactions at high temperatures (> 1000 C) using a range of methods including XRD, gas analysis, electron microscopy, TGA/DSC and other relevant techniques. There may also be opportunities for motivated students to undertake experimental work at the Australian synchrotron.

The project is a joint collaboration between Victoria University of Wellington (VUW, New Zealand), Callaghan Innovation (an NZ Government Research Agency) and the University of Wollongong (UoW, Australia). The student will have access to extensive state-of-the-art facilities at each institution, and will gain experience with a wide range of experimental techniques. Students will be expected to undertake experimental work within the laboratories of each organisation, and must be able to obtain the required entry visas for both New Zealand and Australia.

Applicants should hold the equivalent of a First Class Honours degree, or a Masters degree, in metallurgy, materials science, chemistry/chemical engineering or another related physical science.

This PhD project is part of a 4 year research programme funded by the NZ government on ‘Ironsand Technologies’ which is hosted by the Robinson Research Institute at Victoria University ( The student will work alongside a team of experienced researcher scientists and engineers to explore new commercial opportunities for this indigenous NZ mineral resource.

Key words: Iron-making, methane, hydrogen, DRI, flash reduction, fluidised bed, process engineering

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will receive a stipend of NZ$25,000 per annum for a period of 3 years, in addition to payment of all university tuition fees for this period.

The student will be co-supervised by Prof. Brian Monaghan (UoW) and Dr. Chris Bumby (VUW), and successful completion of this degree will result a PhD which will be jointly awarded by both Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Wollongong. Applicants will be required to meet all criteria for PhD enrolment at both universities, including proof of English language proficiency.

Applicants should contact [email protected] for further information.


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