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SYSC PhD studentship (WPD) - Hydrogen supply chain: Resiliency, sustainability and circularity

   Management School

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  Prof Lenny Koh  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project description

Aligned with the UK net zero target, 10 point plan and Hydrogen Strategy set out by the UK Government in particular the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), hydrogen will play a key role as part of the energy technology mix in the clean energy pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The global hydrogen production economy is projected to reach US$ 219.2 billion by 2030.

The technology development side of both blue (e.g. with CCUS and BECCS) and green hydrogen (e.g. electrolyser) has received a lot of research and innovation attentions. This includes hydrogen production, storage, transport, distribution and utilisation. A systems perspective is crucial and has been acknowledged, but limited studies focus on advancing the understanding of the resiliency, sustainability and circularity of the hydrogen supply chain. Production of hydrogen accounts for 830 million tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of UK and Indonesia combined (IEA, 2019). Whilst safety and security of the hydrogen supply chain is crucial especially under the cyber trends in the digital world, the uncertainty in the global energy supply and the security of supply of rare and critical minerals and materials, where the responsibility and accountability lie when a failure occur in such a complex network has not been well understood.

Such a hydrogen system requires consideration of new manufacturing and chemical process, infrastructure (e.g. pipeline, carrier, inventory) availability, supply and distribution network connectivity (e.g. feedstock resources, products and services application such as for decarbonisation in industry, housing or transport), and the environmental life cycle of all of these systems components. Such an inter-dependency increases the risks exposure (e.g. import reliance), whilst hydrogen can be useful to reduce oil and gas dependency and increase renewable energy mix. Existing research has considered these importance but fail to take the perspective of management theories and geo-political, socio-economic and environmental risks, in conjunction with a life cycle and digital science approach.

This research aims to develop a new framework for managing and safeguarding the resiliency, sustainability and circularity of the hydrogen supply chain. The specific objectives include:

(a) Mapping and articulating relationships dependencies

(b) Establishing criteria and measurement matrices

(c) Trialling on use cases and examples.


This project is funded as a PhD studentship (full time) and it is part of the Research England funded SYSC programme. The PhD student will be based at the Faculty of Social Science, The University of Sheffield and the PhD student’s home department is Sheffield University Management School. The PhD student will be jointly supervised by Professor Lenny Koh (PI, Sheffield University Management School), Professor Vania Sena (Sheffield University Management School), Dr Matthew Wood (Department of Politics and International Relations) and Professor Darren Robinson (School of Architecture).

The PhD student will join a cross-disciplinary team and has access to the relevant facilities at The University of Sheffield including the Sheffield University Management School’s CDT, the Faculty of Social Science PGR communities, the Energy Institute research and innovation infrastructure and communities, and the SYSC team (working closely with the PDRA in WPD supply chain innovation and collaboratively across other themes and work packages).

We are seeking applicants with a combination background, knowledge and experience (e.g. in education qualifications and/or other experience) in the following areas: energy, supply chain management, sustainability, social science, public administration, political economy, environmental science or data science. Understanding and experience in some of the following methodologies will also be useful: life cycle assessment, mapping and modelling, quantitative data and qualitative data analyses.

Applicants must meet the entry requirements for PhD study at the Sheffield University Management School which can be found here.

Applications should be made through our online application form.

The start date for this studentship is September 2022.

Funding Notes

Full tuition fees and stipends on UKRI rate are included in this studentship. We welcome applicants from the UK and outside the UK to apply.

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