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Improving Plastics Recycling via Electro-Chemistry and Pyrolysis Oil Processing PhD


School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

About the Project

Sponsored by the EPSRC, Recycling Technologies Ltd. and Cranfield University, this Doctoral Training Partnership studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000* (tax-free) plus fees for three years.

This prestigious EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership award, co-funded by the industrial partner, Recycling Technologies Ltd, provides a three-year fully-funded PhD studentship. The successful candidate will work within a multi-disciplinary team supported by both academic and industry supervision on research that aims to improve polymer recycling efficiency by applying an electrochemical approach to a pyrolysis oil processing route. This research involves laboratory work and time spent with the industrial partner, as well as the opportunity to present at key conferences in the field. Furthermore, this project has the potential to significantly impact resource efficiency by addressing the global plastic waste issue.

This PhD project will address the following research objectives:
1.) Identification of the reactive species responsible for product instability and corrosivity of the oils.
2.) Determination of the reaction mechanisms and kinetics of reactive species removal in pyrolysis oil via EC.
3.) Evaluation of how effectively coking can be reduced as a result of milder reaction conditions used in EC.
4.) Determination of separation/removal efficiency for reactive species causing corrosion.

Cranfield University is a unique learning environment with world-class programmes, unrivalled facilities and close links with business, industry and governments, all combining to attract the best students and teaching staff from around the world. In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, 81% of research at Cranfield was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.
Recycling Technologies Ltd (RT), the industry partner, specialise in plastic waste recycling. RT’s core business centres around a modular machine, the RT7000, which converts Residual Plastic Waste (RPW) to a hydrocarbon oil named Plaxx®. The machine, at commercial scale, is designed to process 7000 tonnes per annum of RPW at a rate of 1000 kg/h; a capacity and complexity which RT are looking to increase, while ensuring product quality is not affected. However, this oil product might contain a wide range of reactive species causing instability and corrosion during processing in the plant and potentially complicate their potential storage, transportation, and downstream processing due to secondary reactions.

This project will evaluate the extent to which electrochemistry can be used to improve the pyrolysis oil quality and processing in feedstock recycling plants. If successful, the outcomes of this project will provide recommendations for potential modifications to advance uptake of the technology by the industry sponsor and wider polymer recycling industry, giving this project the potential to significantly impact resource efficiency and address the global plastic waste issue.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work alongside the industry sponsor and gain significant experience in industrial research and development as well as to present at conferences.

This research programme is technically challenging. The candidate will received significant level of technical training including design of experiment, a range of analytical skills, instrumentation and other transferable skills. The combination of academic and industry contacts will be beneficial to the candidate’s learning experience and future employability and career development.

Entry requirements
Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit an applicant with strong chemistry or chemical engineering background particularly with experimental experience in electrochemistry.

How to apply
If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form. ref No SWEE0122

For further information please contact:
Name: Dr Ying Jiang
Email:

Funding Notes

*To be eligible for these funding, applicants must be a UK or EU national with ‘settled status’.

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