The future of the energy sector depends on the development of new, economic and non-polluting energy sources such as H2, defined as an energy vector. The UK is ranked 7th as the global eco-technology investor, the Office for Science estimated that in 2020 the value of global sustainability operations raised to US$10 trillion in 2050. The 11th May 2018, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry delivered a £20 million boost to businesses embracing the potential for a future UK H2 economy. The funding is part of the modern Industrial Strategy for sustaining the H2 economy, creating high-value jobs up and down the country. Furthermore, the H2 is considerate a clean energy vector if supplied from renewable feedstocks, due at the problems related to the exploitation of energy resources coming from fossil derivative, causing different environmental issue related at pollution released in the atmosphere. Using the biomass could represent a valid alternative to natural gas, which, currently, is the main source of H2 production by steam reforming.
In the last decade, the scientific community interest has been intensified towards the study of H2 production starting from the steam reforming reaction using of membrane reactor (MR). A MR is a device that combines in a single unit the properties of membrane separation with the typical characteristics of the catalytic reaction, selectively removing a product from the reaction system and giving the possibility of achieving a higher conversion than a reactor classic operating under the same operating conditions. In particular, the MRs interest is due to their ability to combine two different operations in the same equipment: the reaction process and the H2 purification.
The membrane plays an important role, because shift the reaction towards the products and separating the H2 in the same unit. The H2 will have a high purity grade, required to feed a fuel cell; while, some of the sub-products could have a commercial value, useful to amortise the costs of the plant.
The aim of this research project is, therefore, the production of H2 from renewable sources and also the production of by-products with high economic values. The demonstration of the practical advantage in the use of inorganic MRs for converting the biomass towards H2 and comparing to traditional systems and verification of the economic advantage.
The proposed research is transformative and fundamental and as such will impact on the academic and scientific communities through the development of H2 production and chemical with high economical value by bio-sources feedstocks. The research proposal has a high impact on industrial and academic partners, in term of research impact and new technology based on process intensification. Being an innovative research proposal that not only aligns with mainly projects about energy, environment and process intensification, therefore will allow access to funding both in nationally and internationally, with consequences in terms of scientific production, patents and expertise for future projects.
Furthermore, this project fits with different research themes “Manufacturing the future”, “Energy” and “Engineering”. Using a MR take an essential role of process intensification: (i)developing a compact unit, improving their productivity; (ii) least quantity of energy to supply at the system; (iii) low environmental impact, the CO2 produced is obtained from bio-sources, also the presence of membrane separate CO2 from the main H2 stream, maintaining it at high pressure.
Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a good honours degree (2:1 or above) in a relevant discipline. A masters level qualification in a relevant discipline is desirable, but not essential, as well as a demonstrable understanding of the research area. Further details of the expected background may appear in the specific project details. International students will be subject to the standard entry criteria relating to English language ability, ATAS clearance and, when relevant, UK visa requirements and procedures.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply online for this opportunity at: https://e-vision.tees.ac.uk/si_prod/userdocs/web/apply.html?CourseID=1191
Please use the Online Application (Funded PHD) application form. When asked to specify funding select “other” and enter ‘RDS’ and the title of the PhD project that you are applying for. You should ensure that you clearly indicate that you are applying for a Funded Studentship and the title of the topic or project on the proposal that you will need to upload when applying. If you would like to apply for more than one project, you will need to complete a further application form and specify the relevant title for each application to a topic or project.
Applications for studentships that do not clearly indicate that the application is for a Funded Studentship and state the title of the project applied for on the proposal may mean that your application may not be considered for the appropriate funding.
For academic enquiries, please contact Giuseppe Bagnato [Email Address Removed].
For administrative enquiries before or when making your application, contact [Email Address Removed].