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Organic wastes and food, energy and water provision in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Smith
    Prof P Hallett
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Globally, over 2.8 billion people still rely on unsustainable solid biomass for cooking and heating, of which ~2.2 billion (78%) live in rural areas. Wood, charcoal and dung supply over 70% of household energy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Organic “wastes”, including crop residues, food waste and excreta, can provide an important alternative source of energy, either by direct burning of dried materials, or by anaerobic digestion to provide biogas. However, these wastes are also critical to food production, providing organic fertilisers for farmers who do not have the means to buy inorganic fertilisers, and reducing the need for irrigation by increasing the water holding capacity of the soil. The way that organic wastes are used to provide energy affects food production and water availability. Burning organic wastes removes carbon and nutrients, whereas residues from anaerobic digestion are rich in available nutrients, so can provide farmers with a valuable organic fertiliser as well as energy. Water quality can be improved by using organic wastes in energy production if pathogens are removed from the wider environment, but quantity of water needed is also impacted by the method used to release energy; burning of organic resources requires no extra water, whereas anaerobic digestion requires extra water to mix wastes into a slurry. This project aims to find efficient ways to use organic wastes that will maximise the energy, water and food available to rural households in a Sub-Saharan Africa. The country of study will be selected by the student.

Successful applicants should have either a first class honours degree, a distinction at Masters, or equivalent. Co-supervision will also be sought from a university or research institute in the selected country; a suitable contact in the country of study will be an essential pre-requisite.

Application Process
Please apply for admission to the ’Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Science’ to ensure that your application is passed to the correct School for processing.

Please provide a copy of the degree certificate and transcript for each previous degree undertaken, a copy of your English language proficiency certificate (if relevant), and contact details of two referees who can comment on your previous academic performance (at least one should be from your current degree programme). Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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