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Model development and simulation of novel processes for CO2 direct air capture from the atmosphere (EPS2020/32)

Project Description

Mathematical/numerical modelling of cyclic adsorption-desorption processes for direct air capture of CO2. Process design and simulation.

The direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere is a technology that will become essential to combat climate change. This can be done using either liquid solvents or solid adsorbents, where the solid adsorbents seem to present a number of advantages compared to solvents. The solid sorbent materials used for direct air capture of CO2 are mostly reactive materials, such as amine enhanced silica or alumina. There are currently a handful of start-up companies worldwide, who pioneer direct air capture with the use of solid, chemical adsorbents.

Standard adsorption-desorption cycles for direct air capture have been developed and are commercialised, but the investigation of direct air capture processes is just in its infancy. This implies that there is much room to develop more efficient or fit-for-purpose adsorption processes. An established way to do this is through mathematical modelling and simulation. During the PhD, the candidate will develop these models and will use them to investigate innovative cycles, which may lead to better performance in terms of energy consumption and costs. Work is based at Heriot-Watt, but some visits to industrial/academic partners may be necessary. Details can be found from Research Centre for Carbon Solutions:


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). Our scholarships are usually only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC, however some scholarships are available for exceptional overseas candidates.

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online -

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Mechanical engineering PhD, chemical engineering PhD or Bio-engineering and Bio-sciences PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be approx. £15k and full fees will be paid for between 3 and 3.5 years.

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