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The chemistry of industrial materials for removing CO2 from the atmosphere


School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Dr P Renforth No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Alkaline industrial materials (e.g., cement, lime, iron and steel waste) are amongst the largest mass flows that humanity creates. Their creation and use are essential to society, but the manufacturing process of many of these materials emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

They also readily react with CO2 to form solid carbonate minerals, or dissolved bicarbonate solutions, and thus may be able to help prevent climate change. If combined with other forms of emissions reduction, reacting these materials with atmospheric CO2 may result in industries that are either carbon neutral or slightly net negative emitters.

However, fundamental chemical data is missing on the behaviour of these materials with CO2. The aim of this PhD project will be to develop novel laboratory experiments to complete this knowledge gap making a real step-change in our understanding of how these materials react with CO2. Also, the student will work with industrial partners who create and manage these materials, to produce relevant guidance or best practice. Work is most likely based at Heriot-Watt, but some visits to industrial partners may be necessary.
We are looking to recruit an excellent student who is motivated by a desire to contribute to preventing climate change. Experience with geochemistry, environmental sciences, chemical engineering, and laboratory experimentation are highly desirable. The funding requires the student to hold either UK or EU nationality.

The student will join Heriot-Watt’s Research Centre for Carbon Solutions, an internationally leading centre for researching proposals to prevent climate change. The centre includes state of the art laboratories, servicing a dynamic community of students and researchers.

Further Reading:
Mayes, W.M., Riley, A.L., Gomes H.I., Brabham, P., Hamlyn, J., Pullin H., Renforth P. Atmospheric CO2 sequestration in iron and steel slag: Consett, Co. Durham, UK. Environmental Science and Technology. 52, 14, 7892-7900

Renforth, P., Washbourne, C-L., Taylder, J., Manning, D. A. C. (2011) ‘Silicate production and availability for mineral carbonation’, Environmental Science and Technology, 45, (6) 2035-2041 doi: 10.1021/es103241w

See our work featured by BBC Online https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46345280

And a video here: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/video/topvideos/how-slag-can-help-stop-climate-change/vi-BBQjBES

Research Centre for Carbon Solutions: https://rccs.hw.ac.uk
School of Engineering and Physical Sciences: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/engineering-physical-sciences.htm


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