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Sustainable Alternative Routes to Chemicals and Fuels via Hydrothermal Processing


   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering

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  Dr J McGregor  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Sheffield United Kingdom Chemical Engineering Chemistry

About the Project

The global climate emergency presents pressing challenges around identifying sustainable routes to fuels and chemicals, the production of which currently relies on fossil and other unsustainable resources. This PhD project aims to develop novel processing routes to these critical compounds based the application of CO2 as a feedstock.

Hydrothermal processing refers to the conversion of chemical feedstocks in water at high temperature (hundreds of degrees) but at sufficient pressure for the water to remain in the liquid-phase. This has advantages over conventional processing, e.g. avoiding the need for pre-drying of wet feedstocks such as biomass or the ability to use H2O as a hydrogenating agent in place of H2. Previous research in our group has explored the hydrothermal processing of a range of precursors including solids such as waste biomass (e.g. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbp.2019.12.010) or gaseous wastes such as CO2 (e.g. https://doi.org/10.1002/cssc.201902340). Depending on the application gas-phase (e.g. H2), liquid-phase (‘bio-oil’) or solid (‘hydrochar’) products can be targeted. Building on both our previous work and existing industrial link, this project will explore the potential of hydrothermal processing to play a valuable role in both the remediation of waste and in the sustainable production of chemicals.

The research will be conducted in a well-equipped, modern experimental laboratory. Alongside reaction studies, students will employ a range of analytical methods including GC-MS, FTIR, etc. This project is suitable for graduates in chemical engineering, chemistry or a closely related discipline. Previous experience of experimental laboratory work is essential, as a demonstrable passion for research. Full training on all equipment to be used will however be provided.

Training on the specific analytical techniques to be used will be provided, while a wide variety of research training will be provided via the Doctoral Development Programme.

Chemical manufacturing underpins the UK economy and plays a crucial role globally. A PhD graduate in this area can expect to be in high demand.

The student will be supported by the project supervisor and other members of the research group.

Please see this link for information on how to apply: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd/how-apply. Please include the name of your proposed supervisor and the title of the PhD project within your application.

Applicants should have a good first degree in chemical engineering, chemistry or a related subject. If English is not your first language then you must have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component, or equivalent. Please see this link for further information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/english-language.


Funding Notes

Please see this link for further information on the scholarships available: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/scholarships.
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