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Sustainable production of solar hydrogen and carbon-neutral fuels via carbon-free flame synthesis

   Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

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  Dr Lu Tian  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The transformation of the energy sector demands a route towards sustainable hydrogen and carbon-neutral fuel production, while at the same time, it needs clean, efficient, and safe utilisation of such fuels.

Our project aims are to enable the volume production of hydrogen and carbon-neutral solar synthetic fuels via carbon-free flame synthesized nanoparticles. The use of turbulent flames as efficient short contact time reactors is the key enabler, and it offers a route towards the high-volume production of carefully controlled synthesized nanoparticles.

The current project aims at replacing hydrocarbon fuels with hydrogen and hence constitutes a step towards a net-zero circular energy economy. The selected specific applications are (i) solar hydrogen production via photocatalytic water splitting and (ii) the use of carbon dioxide in the production of synthetic carbon-neutral fuels.

As part of the work, emission and combustion characteristics associated with hydrogen use in the context of NOx reduction and high-quality tailor-made nanoparticles will be evaluated. Advanced computational techniques including Transported Probability Density Function Method, will be used, and the predicted outcome will be experimentally verified via particle measurements, such as Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer, and laser diagnosis techniques, such as Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence. Crucially, a solar fuel production demonstration will be undertaken in the final step of the proposal.

This project constitutes a vital step towards the industrialisation of solar fuel production via high-quality photocatalysts due to the scalable nature of the process. Furthermore, it provides key fundamental knowledge and supports the decarbonisation of the flame synthesis industry and the development of tailor-made functional nanoparticles for a wider range of applications that benefice a sustainable society.

This is an exciting and groundbreaking project for Tian’s research group in the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. As a team, you will work alongside excellent researchers within Caterpillar Research & Innovation Centre at Loughborough University. You will also have opportunities to collaborate with world-leading academics from Imperial College London, Cambridge University, the University of Stuttgart and Princeton University.

We are a community based on mutual support and collaboration. Through our Doctoral College, there are continual opportunities for building important research skills and networks among your peers and research academics.


Primary supervisor: Dr Lu Tian

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Prospective candidates will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • A first-class or upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in engineering or a related discipline relevant to the proposed area of research, such as physics, computer science, applied mathematics or chemistry.
  • Ability to undertake scientific programming (e.g. in Matlab, Python, Fortran or C/C++)
  • Excellent English in written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Interest in or experience with Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations
  • Interest in or experience with laser diagnosis techniques

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

All applications should be made online and must include a research proposal. Under the programme name, select 'Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering'. Please quote the advertised reference number AACME-23-012 in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
International fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
The AACME Studentship competition offers the chance for UK and International applicants who are interested in undertaking a PhD to have their full-time studies paid for.
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