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Sustainable conversion of biomass-based wastes into porous bio-carbons and their application in CO2 capture - LEVERHULME

Project Description

The current most difficult challenge of biomass-based wastes is the lack of a volume-balancing set of applications and valorisation techniques which can decrease the large volumes that are sent to the landfill. Valorisation of such residues to produce either energy, materials or/and chemicals is a priority research challenge that needs to be addressed to overcome the current two most critical environmental issues: waste management and GHGs (Green House Gases) emissions mitigation.

In line with the latter, this PhD project will focus on the study of different routes towards the conversion of biomass-waste into added-value porous bio-adsorbents. The main aim is to produce sustainable and cost-effective biomass-based materials for their application in gas separation processes, such as carbon capture. Accordingly, a comprehensive analysis on the properties of the produced bio-adsorbents, their suitability for the selected CO2 capture application (i.e. high CO2 uptakes and selectivity, high working capacity, fast adsorption/desorption kinetics, thermal and mechanical stability, low regeneration temperatures), and the evaluation of the sustainability of the valorisation process(es) employed (from start-to-end), will be performed in order to conclude on the best valorisation route(s).
The selected candidate will develop, characterise and test the bio-adsorbents for CO2 capture, which will involve the development of adsorbents from biomass wastes, their chemical and textural characterisation, evaluation of gas adsorption at equilibrium, and CO2 capture at dynamic conditions, using the existing experimental facilities.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering or any related discipline, such as BSc in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science.

Essential Background: Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Materials Science, Gas Separation Processes, Adsorption, Mass and Energy Balances, with knowledge of - Materials science, materials characterisation: textural characterisation: BET, micropore volume, total pore volume, average pore diameter, …; understanding the experimental characterisation techniques, such as gas chromatograph, FTIR, TGA, porosimeter…), organic chemistry, physical chemistry, reactor dynamics, thermodynamics and heat transfer, gas separation processes, adsorption principles, kinetics of adsorption and desorption, etc. Microsoft Office package (specially Excel). The knowledge of any other software such as Matlab, Aspen Hysys (Adsorption) will be valuable.


Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Leverhulme’ as the Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Funding Notes

Tuition Fee waiver only, provided at UK/EU rates. Successful applicant will need to provide funds for living expenses.

International students are welcome to apply, providing they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International tuition fees.


[1] Linli Rao, Rui Ma, Shenfang Liu, Linlin Wang, Zhenzhen Wu, Jie Yang, Xin Hu (2019). Nitrogen enriched porous carbons from d-glucose with excellent CO2 capture performance. Chemical Engineering Journal, vol 362, 794-801.

[2] L. Yue, L. Rao, L. Wang, L. An, C. Hou, C. Ma, H. DaCosta, X. Hu, (2018). Efficient CO2 adsorption on nitrogen-doped porous carbons derived from d-glucose, Energy Fuels, vol 32, 6955–6963.

[3] Martin, CF., Sweatman, MB., Brandani, S. & Fan, X. (2016). 'Wet impregnation of a commercial low cost silica using DETA for a fast post-combustion CO2 capture process'. Applied Energy, vol 183, pp. 1705-1721.

[4] Martin, CF., Plaza, MG., Garcia, S., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Microporous phenol-formaldehyde resin-based adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture'. Fuel, vol 90, no. 5, pp. 2064-2072.

[5] Martin, CF., Stockel, E., Clowes, R., Adams, DJ., Cooper, AI., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Hypercrosslinked organic polymer networks as potential adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture'. Journal of Materials Chemistry, vol 21, no. 14, pp. 5475-5483.

[6] Martin, CF., Garcia, S., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Doped phenol-formaldehyde resins as precursors for precombustion CO2 capture adsorbents'. Energy Procedia, vol 4, pp. 1222-1227.

[7] Martin, CF., Plaza, MG., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F., Pevida, C. & Centeno, TA. (2010). 'On the limits of CO2 capture capacity of carbons'. Separation and Purification Technology, vol 74, no. 2, pp. 225-229.

[8] Martin, CF., Garcia, S., Beneroso, D., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2012). 'Precombustion CO2 capture by means of phenol–formaldehyde resin-derived carbons: from equilibrium to dynamic conditions'. Separation and Purification Technology, vol 98, pp. 531-538.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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