There is a global push for future renewable energy generation from biofuels to mitigate climate change, estimated to range between 40-190 EJ final energy in 2070 (Biomass and Bioenergy, 2015:74:253-267). However, utilisation of by-products from processes treating solid biofuels is a ubiquitous problem globally. As such, bioenergy residues, including ashes and digestate, are respectively produced in large volumes from combustion-based and anaerobic treatments of biofuels, which are going to grow substantially in the future. The dominant disposal route for ash and digestate is to open ash lagoons and landfills, with further aggravation to climate change. For example, waste residue from these technologies typically yield fly ash with high content of unburned carbon, termed as high-carbon fly ash (HCFA). Currently, large amounts of HCFA are discarded in landfills, which can pollute the surrounding air, soil and water.
This renders bioenergy residue as a huge resource for low-cost pollution abatement technology development, with greater emphasis on strategies for diverting biowastes from landfill and their sustainable re-utilisation through valorisation in renewable energy plants. Specifically, ensuring a sustainable pathway for fostering environmental best practice in utilising biowaste from two key biomass conversion technologies (anaerobic digestion and biomass combustion) has been long overdue, which will be addressed in this research.
The underpinning motivation of this research is to mitigate inadvertent climate impact from bioenergy system through circular economy, mainly developing low-cost filters utilising bioenergy residue for CO2 adsorption and pollution control, and while so doing addressing the intertwined environmental issues affecting our natural environment, including: ●Excessive depletion of abiotic material resources; ●Pollution control, ●Bioenergy sustainability. The research will be drawing interests from the following broad categories of stakeholders – i) Sustainability scientists (primarily researchers involved in waste management, renewable bio energy and environmental management); ii) Public/private sector industries (bioenergy companies, water/waste water utility companies, process industries); iii) Administrators (policy makers/local authorities and regulators).
Key Research Gaps addressed in ONEPlanet theme:
1. generate a circular economy for bioenergy residue to reduce GHG emissions [Climate change mitigation];
2. develop low-cost filter utilising bioenergy residue for CO2 adsorption and pollution control [Anthropocene];
3. evaluate pollutant adsorption and collection efficiency under lab/field condition [Environmental informatics].
Appetite for environmental sustainability; some general skills in bioenergy residue waste minimisation and pollution control through quantitative analysis.
For more information, please contact Dr Abhishek Tiwary ([email protected]
These are (3.5 year) fully funded PhD studentship awards available for entry September 2019. Each award includes fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£14,777) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).